200 people evacuated as fire engulfs migrant camp in Spain

AP , Monday 30 Jan 2023

Some 200 people were evacuated Monday from a camp housing hundreds of migrant workers in Spain after a fire engulfed the site.

Spain Fire
A man carrying his belongings walks past burning shacks at a camp in Almeria, Spain, Monday, Jan. 30, 2023. AP


The fire at the El Walili camp, located in the southeast Spanish region of Almeria, took place on the same day that the camp was supposed to be demolished following an order from the Nijar city 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. Calls to local authorities on Monday went unanswered.

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 Dominguez, president of the local branch of the Medecins du Monde organization, 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.

``Now everybody will be out in the street, outside right now that it's very cold, very cold, that's going to be very hard,`` said the man, who only identified himself as Abdulai.

Residents and nonprofits working with migrants had requested the city council to delay the eviction until winter was over.

APDHA, a human rights group working with migrants in the southern Andalucia region, said authorities had no appropriate relocation plans for the migrants.

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