Badalona: immigrants trapped between luxury blocks and scrap metal

Firefighters continue to clear the ship that burned last Wednesday in Badalona. There are at least three dead, 18 injured. They have not died in Mediterranean waters but on its shores. Near the sea, in Badalona, ​​in a ramshackle ship lived between 150 and 200 immigrants, mostly from sub-Saharan Africa.

Some like Suilemán, from the Ivory Coast, managed to escape the flames. But “it is difficult to know how many people were left inside,” says this 35-year-old boy looking at what has been his “home” until now with a bag hanging on his back. These are your only belongings after 14 years in Europe.

Suleiman was on the roof of the ship, “he slept there every night in a tent.” The smoke and the people running up to the terrace alerted him to the fire. “I told myself that I had to stay calm before jumping.” Those who jumped out of the windows were the ones who had breathed a lot of smoke, he explains. “I ‘ve been very lucky”. Firefighters entered through the deck and managed to evacuate them.

He was also lucky not to die at sea, like so many others. At 21 he got on a canoe to come to Europe. He came from a “survivor,” he says, in search of a future. In Europe he found a future full of vulnerability, misery and poverty. He tries to earn a living recycling, picking up junk off the street, or doing small jobs. “We do what we can but now with the pandemic there is nothing.”

Jibril, originally from the Gambia, also made it out alive but has a friend admitted to the ICU for burns. Through the thick dark smoke he crawled up onto the terrace. With the lights of the mobiles they asked the firefighters for help. “There were a lot of people that night because it was windy and cold.” Jibril complains about the City Council of Badalona ruled by the popular Xavier García Albiol. Before they had social benefits and courses. “They helped us a lot, now nothing. They just want to kick us out. “

“Here we lived as if we were in Africa without electricity, without water, every morning people get up to fight for their future. We are not here to survive, we want to live,” Lionel explains. This Cameroonian who has been in Spain for 10 years asks himself many questions. “Look, how many houses are there around here empty?”

The calcined warehouse was located in the Gorg neighborhood, in Badalona, ​​20 minutes from the center of the city of Barcelona. A ghetto of poverty and misery surrounded by luxurious buildings that have been erected in the last 10 years. An urban project in Badalona that sought to revalue this area near the coast and the city’s marina.

“How much black money does immigration move and the same people who denounce us put it in their pockets without problem?”, Continues with the questions Lionel. “How long have these ghettos been the only option for us? How are we going to pay 700 and three months in advance for a rent? How are we going to work if we don’t have papers? How are we going to get into the system like this? The system destroys us since we arrived and we only want to work and live in peace ”.