Assessing the capacity to manage large influx of undocumented migrants in Spain

The Spanish Ministry of Health is currently assessing the country’s health system and its level of preparedness for a potential sudden massive influx of undocumented migrants from Africa. WHO/Europe is assisting the ministry with technical expertise for the assessment as part of the project Public Health Aspects of Migration in Europe (PHAME).

Spain is the fourth country after Italy, Portugal and Malta to be assessed by WHO/Europe under the PHAME project.  The main objective of these assessment missions is to share knowledge, best practices and potential gaps across the Mediterranean countries. After a similar assessment, the Italian region of Sicily is currently developing a contingency health response plan to deal with massive influx of migrants.

Assessment of migration centres in Spain

Representatives from WHO/Europe and the Spanish Ministry of Health have visited Madrid and Melilla, conducting interviews with the main stakeholders, including representatives of the Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Employment and the Spanish Red Cross. They have also assessed the facilities of different migration centres in the country. A report will be published with the findings from the assessment.

The Spanish cities of Ceuta and Melilla, which share a border with Morocco, are the only European territories located in Africa.  The geographic position of these exclaves makes them natural doors to Europe for the citizens of the African continent.

In the past few years, undocumented migrants have entered the Spanish territory through Ceuta and Melilla, in some cases fleeing war, seeking access to better living and working opportunities.