“We urgently need a hosting plan”

The Colectivo Sin Fronteras Albacete has held a rally this Sunday on the Las Peñas highway, next to the settlements of temporary people, to denounce that they are "inhuman" places where "one suffers in silence in oblivion, invisible even to the citizens of Albacete, but above all for the rest of the Spanish territory”.

The controversial temporary settlement in Albacete, filled again by the obstacles to rent housing

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While Albacete celebrates its big party these days, a dozen groups have shown the other side of the city. València és Refugi, Uhuru Valencia Afro-descendant Collective, Caudete Se Mueve Citizen Platform, AL'Eliana Pel Voluntary Association, Almansa Refugee Support Platform, Elda Humanist Association, Dandelion NGO, Crida against racism and feixism Elda-Petrer and the Spanish Federation of Human Rights Associations, together with activists from many Spanish cities, have traveled to the capital of Albacete to denounce what they describe as an "unworthy situation".

"The cases of Lepe, in Huelva, or Cañada Real, in Madrid, are known above all, but in Albacete the situation is silenced," says Elena Roncero, spokesperson for the Colectivo Sin Fronteras de Albacete, organizer of the protest.

In a manifesto they ask for citizen adhesion to put an end to this situation. “There are at least 400 people on the Las Peñas highway, but there are more settlements and shacks. We don't know the real figure,” he warns.

"We urgently need a housing plan that provides decent solutions to seasonal workers," they claim in the manifesto that accompanies a membership form for all people who want it.

A problem that has become historical

The years in which the situation persists have been counted for almost decades. During the hardest moments of the pandemic, the conditions of these people went viral when they skipped confinement asking for dignity, given the impossibility of going out to work.

The old ship of the company Cereales Saltó was closed where seasonal workers usually took refuge and solutions were promised that still haven't arrived, beyond the offer of the Bishopric of Albacete to house them temporarily.

“We value it positively but there are only 50 places and we are talking about hundreds of people. They are patches. You have to make a real and effective decision.” Today the settlements continue to grow, recalls the spokeswoman for Colectivo Sin Fronteras in Albacete. "It is shameful".

The College of Social Work has spent years asking the administrations "an integral, preventive and continuous work on all fronts with migrant seasonal workers." And now it is insisting again with the support of 200 groups from all over the country.

“They are surrounded by garbage, at risk of fires like the one that occurred in August and suffering from rains and heat waves like the ones we have had. They are not conditions for any person. They are workers. And they are the ones who collect the agricultural products that arrive at our table”, recalls the activist from the Colectivo Sin Fronteras in Albacete.

“We know that it is not easy to solve”

Elena Roncero acknowledges that the situation “is not easy to resolve. We know it”, but she argues that “we have always had a helping hand to create a work table in which measures can be agreed upon together with the social groups that work in Albacete”.

They look with some hope at the initiative of the Government of Spain that last January it announced that the State Housing Plan includes a housing proposal: Up to 50,000 euros per home will be offered so that the autonomous communities, together with employers and municipalities, build homes under the cohousing system.

“We have already proposed a kind of camp in conditions, with constructions and access and registration controls. And with a fee to pay. We have talked to these people and they want to pay for a room. The problem is that they can't find anyone to rent it to them."

And it is not a temporary problem. Neither has been nor will be. “Many of these people will now go to the olive campaign in Jaén, but they will return to Albacete. Some will stay in winter in a horrible place to live.

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