Investigation ordered into Tuesday’s migrant debacle on the port of Arguineguín
Investigation into migrants removed from Arguineguín port on TuesdayPolicía Nacional marched migrants out of the port of Arguineguín on Tuesday, who were then transported and left without recourse, resources or proper information after a panicked mayor of Mogán, in her unique humanitarian style, scrambled to transport them away from the town, and have them unceremoniously deposited in the captial, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, where they were simply left to fend for themselves.
The Ministry of the Interior has ordered an investigation into what happened, after last night the Ministry of Migrations and Canary Islands Regional Government were left to arrange buses to collect the migrants and return them to the south of the island, and into empty tourist accommodation, ensuring they did not have to sleep on the streets.
Sources this Wednesday say the Arguineguín port is at breaking point with 2,300 people in the makeshift Red Cross camp, meant to hold less than 400. The Spanish Government have today ordered the immediate opening of military facilities that were already being prepared to process the arrivals and relieve the situation on the south of Gran Canaria.
Posted by The Canary News on Wednesday, November 18, 2020
As the confused but grateful men boarded the three chartered emergency buses, they repeatedly called out “Thank you very much, merci beaucoup”, to the authorities and all the residents of the city who had spontaneously shown up at the Plaza de la Feria, to offer assistance, food and water.
At around 4p.m. on Tuesday, Policia Nacional marched 227 people from the dockside camp, on the basis that irregular migrants cannot legally be held for more than 72-hours, without any being subject to either to criminal judicial inquiry, quarantine or restriction of movement for other health reasons. On the basis that the camp is full to overflowing, with an estimated 2,300 held there this Wednesday. All of these individuals had been tested for COVID-19 and there is no reason to consider them as having broken any laws, and so it seems an unplanned decision was made to removed them from the port as further rescued migrants were incoming.
Their eviction from the port of Arguineguín was carried out without prior notice, and they were simply escorted directly to the street, without a reception plan, without resources and without information about what they should do next, which it seems caught the Government of the Canary Islands, the Mogán Town Council and the NGOs by surprise.
The town hall was the first to react, with Mogán’s panicked mayor immediately trying to prevent the migrants from leaving the port of Arguineguín while transportation was hurriedly arranged to take them away from her town, and to the capital, ostensibly to bring them closer to the Moroccan Consulate and Spain’s Government Delegation, according to her deputy, Mister Navarro. Nearly 200 of the migrants were persuaded to board the buses, despite not having a place to sleep or anything to eat, and without any knowledge of what to do next. Mogán then left them on the streets of the capital to fend for themselves.
Meanwhile, Spain’s Ministry of the Interior announced that they were investigating why this situation had occurred, the Ministry of Migrations and the Canary Islands Regional Government coordinated with other administrations, including the City Council of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and the Red Cross, to prepare alternatives so as to prevent them from having to spend the night on the street.
A tourist complex, the Vista Oasis in Maspalomas, which has been empty for some time due to the COVID-19 health crisis, offered the solution.
The Federation of Hospitality and Tourism Entrepreneurs in Las Palmas (FEHT) and the UGT and CCOO unions, had been in the press and on television that same day, to demand, in unison, that hotel establishments not be used for the accommodation of migrants as they are “not suitable” and should instead be prepared to resume tourism activity in southern zones in expectation of the winter season. However the likelihood of any serious tourist numbers this winter, in many people’s opinion, is still a distant, if optimistic, prospect
Citizen Solidarity From Las Palmas Residents At The Plaza De La Feria For Port of Arguineguín Migrants
While the migrants last night waited for solutions, on the streets of the capitol, before being relocated, many citizens flocked to the Plaza de la Feria to offer water, some food and support to the migrants. As well as the residents of the area, some organisations such as the Spanish Commission for Refugee Aid (CEAR) and the Federation of African Associations in the Canary Islands also came to the square offering assistance to these people.
Of the nearly 200 migrants who were brought on the buses from Mogán, in the afternoon, 139 of them boarded buses, supervised by the Red Cross, in three groups of 60, 36 and 43 and headed for Maspalomas, between 9:30 p.m. and 10:40 p.m.
This Wednesday, the new superior chief of the Canary Islands Police, Rafael Martínez López, was scheduled to take office in a formal ceremony with the general director of the force, Francisco Pardo Piqueras, and the Spanish Government Delegate, Anselmo Pestana. However, due to the controversy generated by what happened in Arguineguín, the Delegation announced that this act was being postponed.