Church NGOs, UNHCR decry state of migrant centres

Migrants, asylum seekers regularly scale fences to access Spain's North African enclaves. Photo: Reuters via Europa Press
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• Catholic church, UN agencies condemn situation at North African centres
• 6,400-plus migrants, asylum seekers passed through Ceuta and Melilla in 2016

Spanish Catholic church agencies providing assistance to refugees and immigrants have again condemned the Spanish government’s use of forced repatriation en masse of migrants and asylum seekers at Spain’s North African enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla in violation of United Nations guidelines and European accords that call for individual processing of asylum seekers and refugees.

The church agency response to Spain’s deportation en mass and without due processing of migrants and asylum seekers who stormed the fence at Ceuta on New Year’s Day followed a call made just after Christmas by the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees (UNHCR) representative in Spain, Francesca Friz-Prguda, for urgent reforms at Spain’s migrant detention centres at Ceuta and Melilla, which she said are overcrowded and not adequately equipped to handle the number of refugee and asylum claimants being processed through the centres.

According to official statistics obtained by the news agency Europa Press, a total of 6,401 migrants and refugees claiming asylum status entered Spain’s two North African enclaves during 2016, representing a sharp decline in overall numbers from the 11,150 registered the year previous. Of the total number of migrant and asylum seekers coming through the two detention centres, 3,993 were processed at Melilla during 2016, down from 8,900 in 2015; while a total of 2,408 were processed through Ceuta last year, representing a slight rise from the 2,255 migrant and asylum seekers processed there the year previous.

► Read More in Spanish at Europa Press, El Mundo and El Pueblo de Ceuta …

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