Refugees welcome? Police probe racist attacks on migrant youth centers in Catalonia

Refugees welcome? Police probe racist attacks on migrant youth centers in Catalonia
The migrant youths had been staying in the Cal Ganxo residence in Castelldefels. Photo:
Police in Spain were Wednesday investigating an attack with "racist connotations" against a migrants' youth centre near Barcelona, the second such attack in the past week in the northeastern region of Catalonia.

A group of 25 people with their faces masked “ransacked” the centre in the coastal town of Castelldefels south of Barcelona in the early hours of Sunday and “tried to attack teachers and minors”, the regional government of Catalonia said in a statement.

Three people were injured — two teachers and a minor who suffered an anxiety attack, the statement added.

Catalan regional police have questioned the injured and witnesses but have not arrested anyone so far, a spokesman for the police force told AFP.   

Castelldefels city hall downplayed the incident, calling it a fight between migrants from the centre and locals youths, but the Catalan regional government suspect the attack was racially motivated.


“We are talking about a very serious incident which has a racist connotation… this is not a simple fight between youths,” said the regional social affairs minister who is responsible for immigration, Chakir El Homrani.   

The attackers shouted xenophobic words during the attack, and repeated these words and threw stones during a rally outside the centre the following day, according to his ministry.

A man with a machete burst into another youth centre for migrants in Canet de Mar, north of Barcelona, on March 6th and threatened its occupants but left without injuring anyone.

The attacks come amid a surge in the arrival of unaccompanied migrants, mostly from Morocco.

The number of unaccompanied migrants in Catalonia jumped from 684 in 2016 to 3,742 in 2018. 

Spain has become the main entry point for migrants fleeing Africa to seek a better life in Europe, overtaking Italy and Greece.   

Far-right groups routinely take to social media to highlight crimes allegedly committed by migrant minors, and accuse the mainstream media of downplaying crimes carried out by foreigners.

READ MORE: Illegal workers in southern Spain: unwanted but indispensable

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