The arrival of more than 200 migrants in a town in northwestern Spain sparked curiosity, controversy and interest among locals and officials.
On Wednesday, 183 migrants found accommodation in a spa resort at Medina del Campo, a town part of the Valladolid province in the landlocked Castile and Leon autonomous community.
The following day, they were joined by 67 more people who had fled their homelands.
Their arrival and stay at the Hotel Balneario Palacio De Las Salinas – which features more than 5,000-square-metre facilities and lavish gardens – divided opinions in Medina del Campo, which is home to more than 20,500 residents.
One local 60-year-old suggested he was not seeing in a positive light the arrival of the migrants in his town, as he told Spanish publication El Espanol: “If I say what I think, they will take me to jail. I’ve seen them playing football and they don’t look unwell.”
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Another person lashed out at the Spanish Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez, arguing he should “take them to La Moncloa” – his official residence and office in Madrid.
Others, however, expressed their desire to hold out their hands to the migrants, with one local named Isabel saying: “They don’t bother anyone and we have to give them a hand.”
Ricardo, similarly, added: “We have to help and be human, they are people who need help and that is the only thing we have to consider, not where they come from.”
Their stay in the spa resport is expected not to last more than 30 days.
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The facility opened its doors a few days earlier than it had planned to accommodate its guests after it had temporarily shut down to undertake a series of renovation works to modernise its stunning facilities.
The guests will be provided with food and medical check-ups, as well as means to contact relatives and social and legal support.
The migrants’ arrival sparked some friction between the Ministry of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration and Mayor Guzman Sanchez, who is reported not to have been notified of the allocation of the migrants in Medina del Campo.
After expressing his disappointment, he said “little by little things have returned to normal, although it is true that the town is divided”.
But, he added, residents in Medina are now “calmer” and there “we hope to return to normality”.
The Ministry struck an agreement with hospitality company Cheking Hotels over providing accommodation to the total of 395 migrants who were relocated to Castile and Leon.
The decision to move migrants around Spain was taken to ease the pressure on the Canary Islands, which has seen a record number of arrivals this year. On October 21 alone, more than 1,000 migrants reached the archipelago after making a dangerous journey from Africa.
Medina, which is famous for its royal palace, the Mota fortress and the splendid St Michael’s Church among other landscapes, has shown solidarity to people in need on multiple occasions in the past.
In 2006, a number of migrants were hosted in the town, as it happened following the Russian full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
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