Andalusia opens doors to accepting underage migrants, while criticizing ad hoc policies and lack of funding from Madrid

Wednesday, July 10, 2024, 8:19 PM

Andalusia will take on some of the burden of accepting minor migrants in Spain, who have overwhelmed facilities in the Canary Islands. However, the country is demanding the necessary financial resources from the central government, as the current system is already operating at 115% of its capacity.

The mass arrival of underage migrants in the Canary Islands has prompted the Spanish central government to demand that the regions already involved in receiving them receive a fair share of this number. As one of these regions, Andalusia will not oppose this request, but it does insist that it does not happen ad hoc and that central resources are transferred to a system that is already working beyond its capacity.

This is the position of the regional government, presented last Tuesday by the Minister of Social Integration, Youth, Families and Equality of the Junta, Loles López, on the eve of the sectoral conference convened by the island government for Tenerife. She stressed that Andalusia currently has 645 specific places for minor migrants before new arrivals arrive, which is 15% more than their maximum occupancy. “The (central) government is pushing this system of reception and care for minors to the critical point,” she stated.

López said the Andalusian community was ready to do its part by accepting its fair share of these young people, but she did not mince her words of criticism of the central government for the lack of resources available for this task. She also criticized the ad hoc way in which, in her opinion, it was handling the crisis and the lack of institutional loyalty to the regional governments involved. As an example of this, she revealed that the Junta had only been informed of the Tenerife meeting informally, not through official channels. “This is another example of the lack of institutional loyalty with which the government is handling this issue, which does not help to reach an agreement.”

López accused Sira Rego (Minister of Youth and Children) of “suggesting that the Andalusian people do not show solidarity” and reminded the audience that the Junta de Andalucía had set up the Víznar centre in Granada to receive migrants transferred from the Canary Islands. “Andalusia also receives minor migrants from Ceuta through the Response Plan, and we are a country with an international border and migrants arrive on our coast,” she stressed.

Immigration necessary for Andalusia

Ramón Fernández-Pacheco, spokesman for the Andalusian regional government, also dispelled any doubts about the Junta’s position on the crisis, saying that migrants must not only be welcomed but essential. “Andalusia needs immigration, and this problem must be solved as a national problem.” He added that the entire economic effort in this matter is financed by the Andalusian Junta. “We have no help from the central government,” he said.

Jesús Maeztu, as regionally appointed Defender of the People of Andalusia (five-year term with particular attention to the rights of young people in the region), expressed regret that “the reception of unaccompanied migrant children is being questioned.” He continued: “I hear terrible things,” referring to the refusal of sites like Vox to allow the central government to reach an agreement with regional governments on the distribution of the thousands of unaccompanied migrant children currently huddled in the Canary Islands.

Maeztu expressed concern about recent speeches rejecting their redistribution in Spain. “It pains me that it is being questioned,” he said, pointing out that it is a humanitarian issue and advocating for a fair and balanced distribution.

“Andalusia is a country of solidarity and will welcome those it has to welcome,” Maeztu said, stressing that in his view, migratory flows are “a European and national problem.”