Spain: Assisting migrants

The government announced measures in October 2004 to legalize hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants already in the country in an effort to boost the failing economy and incorporate these people into the tax-paying labor market.

Many undocumented immigrants enter Spain through the Canary Islands, or the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla in North Africa. The immigrants arriving here are often exhausted, sick and in desperate need of medical care, shelter, food and water. They may also be traumatized by what they have experienced in their hours or days at sea. However, the country's reception areas are overloaded by the sheer numbers and do not respond to the needs of these desperate new arrivals.

MSF's projects in Spain provide medical care to these shaken and often ill immigrants. The team also collects testimonies from individuals about their experiences and plight in an effort to press the government to accept responsibility for them and improve their situation.

On the island of Fuerteventura, and in Ceuta, MSF has been giving medical assistance. At present, teams continue to monitor the situation, ready to take part, when it is needed. At the end of 2004, the organization began a project to promote access to health services for undocumented immigrants in Madrid's Carabanchel and Villaverde health districts. The team used the personal testimonies it had collected to demonstrate the dire situation facing many immigrants and their need for appropriate medical care.

MSF has worked in Spain since 1994.