Immigrant Squatters Evicted in Andalucia

What is affected
Land Social/public
Type of violation Forced eviction
Date 07 April 2009
Region E [ Europe ]
Country Spain
Location Huelva, Andalucia

Affected persons

Total 100
Men 0
Women 0
Children 0
Proposed solution
Forced eviction
Housing losses
- Number of homes
- Total value €

Duty holder(s) /responsible party(ies)

Brief narrative Article found at

Spaniards Take Seasonal Jobs From Immigrants

"In Andalucia, unemployment stands at 21 percent so for the first time for decades, Spaniards are back in the fields taking on seasonal work such as picking strawberries. But it`s Spain`s immigrants that are the victims of this recent trend.

"For the first time in more than 10 years, Spaniards are returning en masse to work in the countryside, in places such as Huelva, the major strawberry-growing region. With unemployment running at 21 percent, the highest rate in Spain, Andalucia has been hammered by the financial crisis and suddenly, seasonal jobs are back in huge demand.

"There are loads of locals - Spaniards - now. Like me, there are several people in my family who haven’t been back for the strawberry picking for years. But now we have to. There’s no other work out there. So, here we are, back in the strawberry fields," says one worker.

Just like every year, this group of Moroccans signed their contracts in their home country before coming over for the season. But this year, their salaries are way down - 250 euros for two weeks` work, as opposed to 400 or 500 euros in previous years. Around the fields, thousands of migrant workers do the rounds looking for work. On one farm alone, the employer says he has got 50 to 70 immigrants coming in every day, most of them without work papers.

"They haven’t even got enough to eat. But what can you do? It’s very hard for me each day to be saying, no, no, no, but there’s no work."

There are some 35,000 workers who’ve poured into the region only to find no jobs. Adama, who’s originally from Mali, takes us to see a settlement which the immigrants call `the forest`. To get there, you have to go deep into the woods, about a kilometre off the road.

According to him, around 500 people live here, eyeing out an existence in scattered cabins. "Come, I invite you to my five-star hotel. Here you see, this is a room for three people. Each day we get up and go searching for work," he says.

A few metres away is the Moroccan district. There’s no drinking water or electricity here or anywhere in the forest. Mostafa has his papers in order and a work permit. He’s up in arms about the situation.

"Look, to build this shelter we go looking for bits of cord, plastic, bamboo... And all that we found in rubbish bins. I haven’t even got enough money to leave here. I can’t even get to Palos de la Frontera, the nearest town. We’re living like animals in the jungle."

So far, this particular settlement hasn’t run into trouble with the authorities. But the immigrants say they’re frightened. "We’re very, very scared. We worry all the time about whether the police are going to come here and deport us. We can never feel at ease."

Lepe is a few kilometres away. Impromptu camps have sprung up all over the place. Since the season began, the police have come and evicted hundreds of immigrants, including a group of Guineans who were squatting in abandoned huts. The immigrants say the police evicted them because their camp was visible from a residential district.

"They turned up at seven in the morning, smashed everything up. People fled, taking all their belongings with them."

During the making of this report, the local authorities and NGOs, which all receive public funds, turned down FRANCE 24`s interview requests, refusing to acknowledge the scope of the humanitarian disaster that’s going on in the region of Huelva."
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