Melilla: Europe's Trapped Child Refugees
Behind Fortress Europe's walls, Spain is hiding a secret. In its enclave of Melilla in northern Africa, thousands risk their lives each year to cross over from Morocco, including 1,500 children last year alone. Despite Spain's legal duty to look after these migrants, too often they are neglected, imprisoned in overcrowded centres, or left to beg on the streets.
redfish spoke with many of those who made the dangerous crossing only to find themselves living in precarious situations, as well as those fighting for their human rights, and politicians who were shocked at reports on the conditions in Melilla.
Speaking about the conditions at a centre run by the government for migrants, Jose Palazon, founder of the rights group Prodein in Melilla says: "We have monitored the centre for a very long time and have filed many complaints, including about the death of a child. Sexual abuse happens a lot. It's terrible. [There are] people who seem to be hired to mistreat."
redfish interviewed three children - Aziz, Mahdi and Hamouda - who all left a life of begging in Morocco, only to end up doing the same on the streets of Melilla. They now sleep in a recycling bin, and as one of the boys says: "The rubbish truck comes on Friday. When it comes and they see us they say wake up, wake up and get out. Then they empty it and put it back and we get back inside."
When the EU saw the findings of its own report on the situation of migrants in Spain, it refused to publish it. Not even its own MEP's can talk about it. "When I saw them I couldn't take notes about them, I had to enter into a secret room to see them. In order to have access to it, I had to sign a confidentiality agreement, says MEP Marina Albiol. "These are the policies, approved by [almost all] political parties that are boosting hate speech and creating the perfect ground for racism and xenophobia to grow, and we can see all that in Melilla."