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'Obsessive' Spain blocks Gibraltar's typhoon aid

Published: 23 Dec 2013 10:47 GMT+01:00
Updated: 23 Dec 2013 14:47 GMT+01:00

Spain's customs officials delayed the departure of the 20-foot container packed with food, blankets, vitamins and drinking water until after Christmas.

The charity drive from Gibraltar wasn’t allowed to enter Spain, where it was due to be shipped from the southern Spanish port city of Algerciras to the Red Cross in the Philippine capital of Manila.

“European legislation doesn’t allow us to import produce meant for human and animal consumption,” Luis González, Spain’s Head of Customs Authorities in Gibraltar’s neighbouring Spanish town of La Línea, told The Telegraph.

The UK’s Conservative MP Andrew Rosindell said the delay by Spanish authorities was politically driven, accusing them of acting in a “hateful fashion”.

“Relations between Britain and Spain are at an all-time low over their continuing bullying of Gibraltar,” Rosindell told the Telegraph.

“We are fast reaching a point where Britain will have no choice but to show Madrid – in a drastic way – that their behaviour will not be tolerated.

“It is disgusting that the poor people of the Philippines should now be made to suffer due to this Spanish obsession,” he added.

MEP Graham Watson called the blockade of emergency aid to the typhoon-hit Philippines “absolutely appalling” and said he would be raising the matter with the EU’s Home Affairs Comissioner Cecilia Malström.

The €700 worth of food and aid will be picked up directly from Gibraltar on December 29th, Spanish news agency Europa Press reported on Sunday.

Tensions between the tiny UK territory of Gibraltar and Spain have flared since Gibraltar began placing concrete blocks just off its shore in July, a move it said would improve fishing.

Spain said the blocks prevented Spanish fishing fleet from accessing traditional fishing grounds, and retaliated with thorough customs checks at the Spain–Gibraltar border. This led to long queues and plenty of diplomatic wrangling.

Alex Dunham (alex.dunham@thelocal.com)

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