In a letter addressed to the Ministers of Home Affairs and for Inclusion, Social Security and Migration of Spain, published today, the Commissioner raises concerns about the situation of the migrants, including asylum seekers, who are accommodated in the bullring of Melilla, following the prolonged lockdown of Melilla’s reception centre for migrants due to the COVID-19 epidemic.
The Commissioner is concerned about the substandard conditions in which around 500 people live, including several persons with potential international protection needs. The situation of the persons placed in quarantine appears to be even more precarious, notably as regards access to toilets and showers, natural light and sufficient water and food, as well as access to asylum proceedings.
In her letter the Commissioner urges the authorities to find alternatives to accommodating migrants, including asylum seekers, in the bullring. Noting two Supreme Court decisions of 29 July 2020 confirming that persons who requested asylum in Ceuta or Melilla have the right to freedom of movement in Spain, she stresses that transfers to the mainland, in particular of asylum seekers and vulnerable persons, should be extended in order to alleviate the pressure on Melilla’s limited reception capacity and provide more human rights compliant options.
The Commissioner also expresses her dismay at continuing reports of persons drowning trying to reach the Spanish shores, especially the Canary Islands. While appreciating the valuable work of the Spanish search and rescue services, she draws the authorities’ attention to a Recommendation she issued in 2019 which provides guidance for the authorities on issues such as ensuring effective search and rescue, preventing refoulement and collective expulsions, and safeguarding human rights when co-operating with third countries.