The two brothers, aged three years and four months, who died today in an abandoned premises, lived on the margins and deprived of the most basic rights
Like them, another 209 children and 656 adults live in shacks, warehouses and premises in the Catalan capital.
Their names have not been revealed. We only know that they were a 3-year-old boy and his 4-month-old sister. That the father’s name was VD, he was 41 years old, he was Pakistani and he spent his days collecting scrap metal to feed his family. The mother’s name was NI, she was 40 years old and she was Romanian. The four have died of smoke inhalation from a fire inside a bank office that they had occupied for at least a year in the Eixample of Barcelona. They lived in poverty, and their rights, such as decent housing or access to drinking water, were non-existent. The social services of the city council helped them to get food, clothes, diapers … but They were never able to process their access to a social flat or to an economic benefit. Neither for them, who are dead today, nor for the 209 children and 656 adults living in the same conditions in Barcelona.
They were poor, very poor. So poor that the council considers that it cannot “respond to such a complex and structural poverty”, in the words of the Councilor for Social Rights, Laura Pérez. So poor that hardly anyone knew where they came from or what their lives had been like. Until last September social service workers found them.
They ate thanks to the junk that I sold VD while the mother, pregnant, took care of the little one in the occupied place. The Sisfam workers, a municipal service specialized in serving families with children living in shacks or abandoned warehouses in the city, always had a good relationship with them. They gave them help to buy food, diapers, medicine … They took them to the social wardrobes in the city and the laundries. They also achieved register them, have health cards and educate the child to take P3. Up to 88 times social workers showed up on the premises. And many other times it was the family, the mother or the father, who went to the offices of this service to ask for help.
They did not have papers and lived in a place without a certificate of occupancy. The two requirements that exclude to access an emergency social floor. It is the same that happens to the 865 people who live in similar conditions in the city. One in four are children. Either they could access an employment contract, or a social benefit. And it was ruled out that they were going to live in a pension temporarily when on October 18 the Guardia Urbana visited the space and cataloged that there was no serious risk to their lives.
One morning in August, NI’s waters broke. Three months ahead of her due date, she was terrified that her daughter would die before she was born. The delivery went well, but the baby had to stay in the incubator of the Hospital Sant Pau a few months. The mother suffered from not being able to see her little girl. I didn’t even have money for the subwayNor could he go to the neonatology ward with the small child, because the father could not take him away while he collected scrap metal. The few times who managed to go to the hospital to breastfeed her daughter were, for her, real victories.
Months passed and the baby went to live with his parents in the busy office. The Sant Pau neonatology professionals also traveled to this substandard housing to carry out regular check-ups. They also proved that the children were cared for by their parents. The problem is that they lived in the most extreme poverty. It’s the same thing the teachers at the school where the little one attended said. He never missed a day of class and always arrived neat and with clean clothes. His parents showered him daily, yes. But with pots of water from the fountain in the square.
Yesterday all four died. His lungs were filled with smoke, victims of poverty. Like Rosa, in Reus, six years ago. Or the three people killed in a fire in Sant Roc almost two years ago. Or the four who died in Gorg’s abandoned ship, in Badalona, just a year ago.