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Two deaths in three weeks in Spain’s notorious detention centres

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Allegations of institutional neglect surround the deaths of two migrants within weeks of a report calling for the centres’ closure.

In the early hours of 5 January, a 21-year-old man from Guinea-Conraky, died in Barcelona’s immigration detention centre after complaining of chest pains or (according to another report) breathing problems. The age of the deceased, who has not been named, is enough to sound alarm bells. Friends who were with him allege that the guards delayed in seeking medical help for the young man. Police claim they were on hand immediately and that within fifteen minutes an ambulance had arrived and medical personnel were trying to revive him. Detainees staged a hunger strike to protest the death, pointing out that there are no 24-hour medical facilities at the centre and that doctors only visit twice a week. The authorities responded to the protest by deploying riot police.

The young man was the second person to die in a Spanish migrant detention centre in less than three weeks. On 19 December 2011, an unnamed woman, aged 41, believed to be from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, died of meningitis hours after her admission to hospital from the Aluche detention centre, in the suburbs of Madrid. A ruling on the death from the Madrid court which monitors the centre was highly critical of the ‘manifest overcrowding’ suffered by inmates, who are held six or eight to a cell, the lack of washing and toilet facilities or an infirmary, all of which facilitate the spread of infectious diseases. The court, which described conditions at Aluche as ‘particularly serious’, ordered the centre staff to segregate those who had had contact with the deceased and to ensure appropriate hospital treatment for anyone needing it. A month earlier, the court had to order centre staff to put a stop to the practice of locking cells and denying access to toilets (which are in the corridors), which was forcing women to relieve themselves in plastic bags, bottles or the small sinks in the cells.

The detention centres which house Spain’s undocumented migrants for up to two months pending their deportation were already attracting condemnation and demands for their closure before these latest events. A report by Migreurop released on 15 December, based on in-depth inspections of four centres (in Málaga, Algeciras, Madrid and Barcelona) documented ‘systematic violations of fundamental rights’ including rights to privacy, to legal help, to moral integrity and to dignity, and called for the centres’ urgent legal regulation, pending their eventual closure. Its campaign for regulation of the centres and the imposition of minimum standards has attracted 40,000 signatures and the support of 400 organisations.

Another report by the NGO Pueblos Unidos (Peoples Together), released the day after the death of the Congolese woman and based on over a thousand visits to the Aluche centre where she died, described ‘widespread ill-treatment’, including collective punishments and deprivation of access to fresh air as well as the ‘humiliating and degrading’ denial of access to toilets. This organisation, like the Episcopal Commission on Migrants in Spain, warns of migrants’ exclusion from the general body of legal rights and norms, in a state of ‘juridical exceptionality’ in the centres.

Source: Institute of Race Relations.

Dublin city holds most immigrants

map of Dublin's population born abroad

According to The Irish Times (article by Pamela Duncan) people born outside Ireland now make up more than two-thirds of the population of the area around O’Connell Street, at the centre of Dublin City, according to a breakdown of the latest census statistics.

The electoral division in and around the GPO and O’Connell Street has the highest percentage of people born abroad living in any area in Ireland, with almost 70 per cent of the population of the North City electoral division born outside Ireland.

The electoral division, bordered by the Liffey to the south and Parnell Street to the north, has a population of 5,345 according to the latest census, which was carried out in April 2011.

It is one of six areas in Dublin city centre where the non-Irish resident population now stands at more than 50 per cent, according to an in-depth breakdown of figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) census by the All Island Research Observatory, a research unit and interactive spatial data portal based at NUI, Maynooth.

The 2011 census showed almost a third of people born outside Ireland live in Dublin. There are now 218,653 non-Irish born nationals living in Dublin, meaning one in five people living in the capital was born abroad. Despite this, some parts of the city and county remain almost entirely Dublin-born.

The highest population of Dublin-born residents are in the Kylemore, Carna, Drumfinn and Decies electoral districts in Ballyfermot, where up to 93 per cent of the population was born within Dublin.

Other areas where more than 90 per cent of residents are Dublin-born include four electoral divisions within the Finglas area; the Kilmore C division of Coolock, bordered by the Northside Shopping Centre on one side and the Cadbury plant off the Malahide Road on the other; and the electoral divisions of Clondalkin-Rowlagh and Priorswood B.

Child Migration Research Network

The Child Migration Research Network (CMRN) has been established to help assess the impact of migration on children and youth.  The aim of the CMRN is to bring together researchers who look at how migration affects children and to highlight research work, especially that in grey literature or other hard to reach sources, that focuses on this area.

Estimating the numbers of children affected by migration worldwide is beset by problems, but the high rates of adult migration suggest that enormous numbers of children and youth are affected, either as migrants themselves (with families or alone) or by members of their families migrating.  For more on numbers see some of our data sources.  If you would like to join the researchers network, contribute a resource, comment on the website or sign up for email updates please use the links in the left hand column.

The Child Migration Research Network grew out of work carried out by researchers at the Development Research Centre on Migration, Globalisation and Poverty (Migration DRC), and its successor, the Migrating out of Poverty Research Programme Consortium. The Migration DRC’s research on young people focused on the independent migration of children and youth and began to bring together researchers and practitioners working with children affected by migration. The Migrating out of Poverty consortium’s research over the next six years will include further investigation of girls’ migration in developing countries, with research findings intended to inform migration and social protection policy recommendations.

Although there is some research that looks at children in the developed world who are first, second or even third generation migrants and how migration affects their education, health, cultural life and myriad other aspects, the focus of the CMRN is mainly on children and young people in developing countries or those subject to the immigration policies of developed countries.

The CMRN is run by the Migrating out of Poverty Research Programme Consortium at the University of Sussex, which is funded by DFID. CMRN was set up thanks to funding from the Rockefeller Foundation.

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