Hundreds of migrants, the majority from Senegal, have in recent weeks requested asylum after arriving in Madrid while on a layover to other countries, usually ones in South America that do not require entry visas, a police union representative told AFP.
While they wait for their claims to be processed they are kept in rooms equipped with bathrooms set aside for migrants seeking asylum.
The government opened a fourth room to cope with the surge in arrivals but some asylum seekers are still forced to sleep on inflatable mattresses or share a bed, according to the Spanish Commission for Aid to Refugees (CEAR), a non-governmental organisation. “The overcrowding and unsanitary conditions have reached critical levels, causing outbreaks of bedbugs, a build-up of garbage and a shortage of towels for personal hygiene,” it said in a statement.
More asylum claims were made at the airport in January — 864 — than during all of 2022, the last year for which official figures are available, when 767 were filed.
Spain is one of the main gateways for immigration into Europe. A total of 56,852 undocumented migrants entered Spain last year, an 82.1% jump from 2022.