Tunisians threatened with deportation condemn the living conditions in Melilla

Said (pseudonym) is a young Tunisian migrant who arrived at the Temporary Immigration Reception Center (CETI) in Melilla in November 2019. He fears being forced to repatriate if Tunisia does not refuse the Spanish plan for repatriation. He also condemns aggressive treatment by the center’s security agents.

We reject the unilateral decision of the Spanish government, which has no right to forcefully remove us. I know that if a refugee claim is denied, we are entitled to a “passport”, a notice to leave the territory, valid for 30 daysIn January, we held a protest march against the eviction plan, and no one came to talk to us: Neither the Spanish authorities nor the Tunisians. That same month, a Tunisian consul from Madrid came and promised to take care of our situation. Since then, we have not had any new news, as travel has become impossible due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

On April 25, we launched a hunger strike, several migrants even mumbling in protest. We are afraid of being brought back to the hardship of our country’s complexity.

Since the beginning of the containment, the camp has received 2,200 migrants, mainly Tunisians. For Saïd and his companions, Tunisian migrants are neglected by CETI agents: during their hunger strike, the health status of two Tunisian migrants deteriorated seriously. They could not call an ambulance and had to go to the hospital by taxi before being hospitalized. “It’s just our daily lives,” Said said.

Above migrants whose health condition severely deteriorated during their hunger strike (photos and screenshot). Below, the taxi ordered by migrants arrives at the doors of the center, in the absence of an ambulance. Pictures sent by our Observer.

“Death awaits us inside and outside the camp”

We also get provocations from camp agents: one of them, for example, attacked a migrant with a baton and insulted him. We posted the video on Facebook and Whatsapp, and local media forwarded it, but deleted it a few days later. Since then, the attacks have been repeated and targeted, and our phones were monitored very closely.

Video filmed on May 11, sent by our Observer. We hear that the guard is dealing with the migrant of “father’s son”.

Our observer ensures that Tunisians are treated differently: thus, they would not have the right to some care at the center’s dispensary.

Since the closing ended, we sometimes go out of the camp to go shopping but we are often robbed by gangs occupying the wadi. One of us, an elderly man, was stabbed in the month of Ramadan. But when we file a complaint, the local police says that all we need to do is defend ourselves. We no longer dare to leave the camp after dark. Even during the day I shop with five people for increased security. Death awaits us inside and outside the camp. Let’s not even talk about the health risks associated with the Covid-19 pandemic: we sleep 300 or 350 people in the same room. Some of us sleep outside to limit crime.

For food, you can stand in line for an hour or more. The administration also gives us no information about our destiny. Here, there are families, the elderly, who suffer from chronic diseases. With Covid-19, nothing has been created for them.

To get food, access to the hospital or any other service, migrants from Melilla CETI are forced to queue without being able to respect social distance. Pictures sent by our Observer.

“(…) Instead of an urgent transfer to the peninsula due to the overcrowding of CETI, (the interior minister) announces a collective expulsion in the middle of a pandemic!”, This surfer explains on Twitter.