Crowdfunder appeal: Vital supplies needed for workers in the settlements of Southern Spain 

As consumers stockpile in the UK, and supermarkets see a surge in sales, some of those working in supermarket supply chains have been left without food and other basic necessities. We are raising funds to support them.

Migrant workers, providing fruits and vegetables to UK supermarkets, have been confined to the cramped settlements in Southern Spain where they live by recent social-distancing laws. This is often without access to running water, basic sanitation or food. Many are unable to work during the pandemic (due to restrictions on travel), meaning they have no income and are in urgent need of supplies.

"There are many people who have nothing to eat and no clean drinking water," Amadou, who lives in Lepe settlement, Huelva says.

Local organisations are working to provide basic necessities in these communities. Your support will provide food, medicine, nappies and other vital supplies.

We are working with SOC-SAT agricultural unions in Almeria and Huelva and the Collective of African Workers to provide relief through a new Crowdfunding campaign.

Latest podcast: Appeal Special

Ethical Consumer co-editor Tim Hunt talks to lead researcher Clare Carlile about the situation and our current appeal.

What is the situation?

Failure of employers and the government to provide basic rights has created dire circumstances for the inhabitants of the shanty towns in Almeria and Huelva, Southern Spain. Thousands of workers and their families live in settlements, in housing made out of wooden pallets, cardboard and plastic from the local greenhouses.

Since Spain declared a lockdown on the 14th March, they have been told that they cannot leave these settlements. Yet the closest source of running water is sometimes several kilometers away, according to a UN report published in January.

In mid-March José from SOC-SAT, Almeria told us,

“Under normal circumstances the conditions for the day labourers who live in the settlement are shocking. After more than 15 days of alarm, the situation is desperate."

Usually the workers are employed as pickers or in warehouses for the salad vegetables and soft fruits industries in the region, which are believed to supply to all major UK supermarkets.

Although considered ‘essential’ workers, many are now unable to work. Many workers cannot travel to the farms due to limitations of two to a vehicle during the particularly harsh lockdown conditions in Spain.

image: agricultural worker southern spain living conditions settlement text: there are many people who have nothing to eat and no clean drinking water

Operations on some farms have been paused, and SOC-SAT Almeria also says that employers are using Covid-19 as an opportunity to make covert layoffs. Already on poverty wages, most workers have no savings and live off each month’s pay.

Difficult to follow protocols

Without running water, and in crowded living conditions, they also say they are unable to follow health protocols and are scared that coronavirus will spread.
“We’re living here, feeling scared and afraid, because up until now we haven’t received any kind of help, not in terms of water, gloves, or face masks,” Amadou says.

Local organisations emphasise that the settlements have long been at crisis point. In January, the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty stated that he was left “stunned” after seeing the conditions in Huelva.

“I met with workers living in a migrant settlement in conditions that rival the worst I have seen anywhere in the world.”

The organisations providing support

Local organistions, whose members include many of those living in the settlements, are providing support, delivering much needed food supplies and calling on the government for longer-term measures.

Amadou, who is from Mali, is a member of the Collective of African Workers in Huelva, a grassroots organisation that has been campaigning for an “end to the shanty towns”, and providing relief during the pandemic. In Almeria and Huelva, the local union SOC-SAT is also providing much needed food, soap, nappies and medicine.

Supporting our Crowdfunder will enable these organisations to continue providing vital relief.

Donate now on our Crowdfunder page.

How will the money be spent?

The organisations have held consultations with the communities to identify their most urgent needs, which include:

  • food,

  • medicine,

  • nappies and other baby products,

  • personal hygiene products,

  • masks, gloves, disinfectant gel and other PPE.

Longer-term goals include the provision of water infrastructure.

This is how the crowdfunder is currently doing. We're really thankful for all the support from our readers.

For more information about the situation in Almeria and Huelva, read our other articles:

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