Over a hundred of the refugees from the troubled Aquarius fleet, who landed in Valencia last Sunday, were transported by coach to an Alicante hostel on Monday, where they arrived ” tired and happy”. Many of them were then transferred to the Sant Joan Hospital, where they were to undergo bone x-rays, examinations and tests by forensic doctors, in order to confirm their ages.
The purpose of the tests was to determine if 61 of the boys and girls, all claiming to be 16 years of age and under, are actually the ages they claim. Juvenile prosecutors said that there were doubts about many of the young people who were selected to undergo the tests.
The Councillor for Justice, Gabriela Bravo, explained that the tests are necessary to determine the exact age of the children, as their legal status is completely different should they be categorised as youths or children.
Of those tested, results showed that at least twenty of them were in excess of 20 years of age. These have now been transferred to the City of Hope, located in Aldaia, close to Valencia city. This is a comprehensive care centre for those considered to be at risk of social exclusion, and that currently has 164 residents, of which 110 are refugees of 36 different nationalities.
Meanwhile, having arrived at the Alicante hostel on Monday, 28 of the refugees immediately absconded. However, both the National Police and the Police of the Generalitat were quick to respond, managing to locate the majority of the runaways. In total they picked up 25 of the 28 fugitives within just a few hours returning them to the reception centre for further processing. A traffic patrol from the Civil Guard located one walking along the N332 and another four on the road to Las Parras in Villafranqueza.
At the time of writing only three are still thought to be at large.
But, despite the support provided by the Councillor for Equality, Mónica Oltra and the mayor of Alicante, Luis Barcala, not everybody is happy with the placement of the refugee children, with one group of Alicante university students, who previously occupied the rooms allocated to the refugees, kicked out of their accommodation with little notice on Sunday morning.
Following complaints they were subsequently transferred to a student residence in San Vicente, where their expenses would be borne by the Generalitat, however, there were a small number of non-Spaniards, who had reserved their accommodation in the centre, and who arrived on Sunday morning, only to be told that their reservations had been cancelled with no alternative offered.