2nd April 2023
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200 evacuated as fire engulfs migrant camp in Almería, Andalusia

Some 200 people were evacuated on Monday from a camp housing hundreds of migrant workers in the Almería province of Andalusia, after a fire engulfed the site.

The fire at the El Walili camp took place on the same day that the camp was supposed to be demolished following an order from the Níjar local council. A court order for the camp’s demolition said structures there were dilapidated and built without a housing license. It was unclear how the fire started. 

Most of the camp’s residents were men from sub-Saharan Africa and Morocco, working on the many farms in the area. Together with tourism, agriculture is a primary source of income for the region.

The camp consisted of hundreds of huts built around 15 years ago and housed up to 500 migrant workers. Many shelters were built out of the same plastic used in the local farms’ greenhouses and lack any services like electricity or running water.

The evacuated inhabitants were taken by bus to a nearby warehouse where charity workers received them. Some 60 people had arrived at the hall by Monday afternoon.

Carmen Domínguez, president of the local branch of the Medecins du Monde organisation, said the camp was meant to be a temporary accommodation while new housing for the migrant workers was being built. But a Senegalese man leaving the camp said he had lived in the camp for two years, according to a Press Association report.

Residents and non-profit organisations working with migrants had requested the local council to delay the eviction until winter was over.

APDHA, a human rights group working with migrants in the region, said authorities had no appropriate relocation plans for the migrants. They tweeted that the ‘Right to a Roof Platform [@derechoatechos] denounced that the mayoress of Níjar has breached all the commitments in a “dehumanised” eviction of the camp’.

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