SAMU’s Response to the migrant crisis in the Canary Islands

The recent migrant crisis in the Canary Islands, has once again tested SAMU Foundation’s capacity to act fast and with determination towards an emergency. As a result, SAMU has been able to set up and running four centers for unaccompanied minors. The centers, located in Telde, Farabella, Roque Nublo and Tamanaco (Puerto Rico), all part of Canary Islands, have the capacity to host 296 minors.

More than 300 unaccompanied minors arrived to the island with nothing else than the clothing they were wearing. Now, thanks to SAMU’s action, they have a safe shelter. 

The first center, in Tamanaco, was set up in record time. The first 43 children arrived on November 11, only 48 hours after SAMU had received the official calling from the Dirección General de Protección a la Infancia y la Familia, of the Canarian government. SAMU responded to the call for help. Up until  November 15, the arrival of migrants to the coast of Canarias, of more than 16,000, was 11 times more than the previous year according to official data. Numbers that had not been seen since 2006. 

SAMU was assigned the task to set up an emergency center in Tamanaco. “They called us because they had reach their capacity” Explains Juan Rodrigo, Directo of SAMU in the zone of Andalucía Occidental. The center, with a capacity to shelter 150 people had over 200 minors during the peak of the crisis. The other centers built have a capacity of 60, 58 and 28, respectively. 

SAMU’s response to the arrival of immigrants to Spanish coasts

SAMU Foundation is one of the main global operators in health, emergency and social services with have over 70 work centers in various autonomous communities in Spain and in four other countries, including our offices in Washington, DC. These include residences for highly dependent persons, residences for the elderly, day care centers, a mental health hospital and more than twenty centers for minors (11 types).

SAMU Foundation has proven and extensive experience in the management of Emergency Field Shelters for the reception of unaccompanied foreign minors since 2007. During the 6 months that SAMU managed the Emergency Field Shelter in 2007, 313 minors were attended. In 2009 and 2012, two new Emergency Field Shelters were managed, serving a total of 515 minors.

Currently SAMU Foundation manages the Programa de Recepción, Atención y Acogida Ininterrumpida (RECEP) in Andalusia, Spain. This program ensures uninterrupted reception and care for unaccompanied foreign minors. From the beginning of the activity in October 2018, SAMU Foundation has attended 4,091 unaccompanied foreign minors under the RECEP program. 

The Spanish response to the crisis respects various signed international conventions and treaties. These emergency reception facilities are put in place to guarantee the protection of those who see their fundamental rights threatened in their country of origin and to assure Spain’s commitment to the Right of Asylum.

SAMU Foundation currently has a total of 35 work centers attending minors. In 2020, 2,201 minors were attended by a multidisciplinary team of 426 professionals. They carried out the contingency plan when faced with COVID-19 through the implementation of a biosafety department in all centers. The RECEP, due to its unique characteristics, is the center with the largest emphasis on biosafety.