CGT denounces that they lived in “subhuman conditions”: without hot water, with rodents, leaks and structural damage
The Government admits that the space had “imperfections” and the Red Cross assures that it will investigate the complaints internally
The first reception center to care for recently arrived migrant minors in Catalonia moves from the Collserola mountain range to a city in Vallès. An already controversial center, which neither the dean of the Ciutat de la Justícia de Barcelona, nor the residents of some Barcelona neighborhoods agreed to host in 2019. The equipment in the mountains has suffered multiple damages and in December the Red Cross and the Government chose to change the location. At the same time, some center workers grouped by the CGT union have denounced on TV-3 that theMinors lived in “subhuman” conditions. The management entity is studying the accusations and has cautiously removed the former director.
Two years after the unworthy images of migrant children sleeping on the floor of the Barcelona Public Prosecutor’s Office and in police stations throughout Catalonia, in 2019 the Generalitat managed to find an old house in the middle of the Collserola forest that was going to attend to them in a first time, make the necessary reviews and identifications and offer psychological help. However, social entities had been claiming this equipment for years next to the juvenile prosecutor’s office, where children continue to arrive, or at least in the neighborhoods of Barcelona. The Free Zone and the Besós were considered, but the neighborhood movement against the reception of children stopped it.
building in poor condition
After three years of operation, this mountain center has closed and the facility, managed by the Red Cross, has moved to a municipality in Vallès. The causes are related to the poor condition of the building. Floods, leaks or a damaged boiler are some of the causes. “Some damage has already been detected that has been solved, and on occasion the building has had to be moved for a few days,” they explain from the Ministry of Social Rights. “This is a very old building and the temporary Gloria, at the beginning of 2020, also caused significant problems“, says a spokesman for the Red Cross. “It is also evident that, being in the middle of the mountain, animals enter, rodents…”, he adds. “There has come a point where it is necessary to go beyond punctual repairs that the Department has been paying for”, they say from the ‘consellería’, remembering that this building is owned by the Barcelona City Council.
The coronavirus pandemic also took its toll on the center, designed to care for these children for a couple of days. “We had to make confinements and extend the rooms, so we opened another part of the building that was not enabled for it,” they explain from the Red Cross.
Some deficiencies, such as the lack of hot water, were already detected a month after the creation of the center. Explains LM, a worker who started at this center from the time it was opened until September 2019. “For me, the most serious thing was that there was no hot water and that the food they gave was very little. The children were very hungry and the menu was totally insufficient for them,” she explains. She raised these complaints with the director of the center, but seeing that nothing changed, she decided to leave her job. Other workers also complained to the director. This Wednesday , through the CGT union, have exposed their criticism in videos through social networks.
It was not until December 2020, through a letter from a group of employees, that the Red Cross learned that, in addition to the poor state of the facilities, there had been other services not working properly. “As soon as we found out we removed the director who had not informed us and the human resources services are investigating what has happened”, they say from the Red Cross. In record time they obtained another location in the Vallès on a provisional basis.
Throughout these almost three years, more than 2,000 minors have been cared for in this device. They are less than the more than 3,000 a year that packed police stations in 2018, but the figure proves how the need to have a space enabled for the first reception is still necessary. Three years later, his location remains tentative and secret. The suspicion of the neighbors and the fears in the reception are more alive than ever.