Migrants welcomed in Samianigo on hunger strike in defence of their rights as refugees

Migrants welcomed in Samianigo on hunger strike in defence of their rights as refugees
Migrants welcomed in Samianigo on hunger strike in defence of their rights as refugees

EIn October of last year, the Spanish government “transferred” some 240 migrants from the Canary Islands to Aragon, to the cities of Samianigo -Alto Galligo- and Quicena -Plana de Huesca-. The Pirenarium building in Samianigo became the “temporary residence” of 187 of these migrants, seeking international protection or asylum. After these months, the Pirenarium facilities remain fully booked and the people being taken in complain of “deficiencies in their basic needs” and demand Spanish classes to be able to move forward with their life project in Aragon and Europe.

Currently, they receive Spanish classes taught by volunteers from the Pro-Refugees Platform of Alto Aragón, but “greater involvement on the part of the Ministry is necessary to advance their training and integration,” say the social entities. On the other hand, they demand “better conditions regarding food, health and clothing from the Apip Acam Foundation, which manages the reception.” They assure that their attempts to communicate “with the Foundation that manages the centre have been unsuccessful.” They also explain that “the hour and a half of Spanish classes they can access daily is thanks to the volunteers from the Pro-Refugees Platform of Alto Aragón.”

For his part, the sub-delegate of the Spanish Government in Aragon for Uesca, Carlos Campo, visited the Pirenarium centre and met “with both the heads of Apip Acam” and with a representation of the migrants in the reception situation. The latter conveyed to the sub-delegate some requests “regarding meal times, the composition of the menus and access to training”.

Visit of Carlos Campo to Samianigo | Photo: Platform for Refugees of Alto Aragón

“We reject the attempt to infantilize them and support legitimate protest actions in defense of their rights”

The Pro-Refugee Platform of Alto Aragón reminds that “the people housed in Samianigo are applicants for international protection and their rights should be guaranteed on equal terms to other refugees in the State of other nationalities”. In this regard, they point out that “they should be accommodated in special asylum centres where their needs for translation and interpretation, language classes, legal and personalised psychological care, vocational training, job guidance, etc. would be covered and on a temporary basis for their full social and labour inclusion” in the Spanish State or in Aragon.

“It is an incontrovertible fact that the Samianigo reception centre is not an asylum centre and therefore does not meet the minimum guarantees nor does it have sufficient resources to guarantee the rights of the people currently housed there, so we at the platform understand and comprehend the complaints and claims raised by the people housed in the town,” they stress.

However, the Platform points out that “they are neither sponsored nor organized by the Platform, which is a legally constituted association whose decisions are taken collectively through its bodies, and there is no record of any political or media influence on our part in this regard, and we must reject, in any case, any attempt to infantilize migrants as if they lacked knowledge or rationality and allowed themselves to be manipulated by spurious interests, as some areas seem to want to slip in,” they emphasize.

They also believe that it should be remembered that “the people who are being housed come from countries such as Mali or Senegal with an indisputable tradition of community organisation and social struggles, which is precisely why many of the people being housed have had to flee, so it is logical that they refuse to be dehumanised and that they organise themselves to demand their rights and, as in this case, exercise their freedom of expression through the forms of protest they deem appropriate.”

On the other hand, they recall that the platform “meets periodically, that it has a modest budget dedicated mainly to helping other organisations on the borders and, for a few months now, with a small support fund for people welcomed in Samianigo – which they call the Artieda Fund – dedicated to addressing basic needs in a subsidiary manner to the State”. In this regard, they add that “healthcare expenses or trips to reception centres for people who had become homeless or who had not been attended to by public services have been financed”.

Likewise, the platform has also been “supporting people in learning Spanish, training in digital technologies or providing guidance on their immigration status and the right to asylum, among other issues. All of this is done by volunteers who altruistically give up their free time and who have been accompanying people without their particular opinions being able to link them to the platform.” However, they emphasize that “there are many other people who privately accompany refugees given the wave of solidarity in the region that we can be proud of and who do not belong to any platform.”

For all these reasons, “we recognize as legitimate and reasonable the protest actions that the people welcomed in the town freely decide to carry out, and with the support of whomever they decide, and given the situation of violation of rights that we from the platform do understand is occurring given the deficiencies that we observe daily,” they conclude.

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