“Living without CIE is possible”. This is the message that was conveyed this time at the prayer vigil in solidarity with the people interned in these centres, which is held every year by the different organisations of the Jesuit Migrant Service network. On this occasion, the meeting was held in Barcelona last Saturday, in front of the Zona Franca Detention Centre for Foreigners, while the vigil in Madrid has been postponed until a new date.
The group of visits to the CIE of the Migra Studium Foundation, which is organising the vigil in Barcelona, was joined by more than 60 organisations and groups. The number of participants was limited, but the event could be followed live on Instagram.
The initiative served to denounce the unjust and useless suffering of thousands of people interned in these centres. The testimonies of inmates, collected by the volunteers who visit them, were read out. Some of them suffer from health problems or are minors. Their stories highlight the violations of rights that occur inside the CIEs. “I am a minor. I don’t know why I am here. It’s been five days since I arrived and I can’t sleep or eat. I am afraid in the cell, in the courtyard, in the dining room”, a young Algerian who was finally deported explained to the volunteer.
The auxiliary bishop of Barcelona, Mgr Javier Vilanova, who attended the event, stressed the need to accompany the people who are interned. “We want them to feel our heart that loves them and defends their rights and dignity”.
In March last year, with the state of alarm over the pandemic, the CIE was empty and closed. “For seven months it has been proven that we can live without CIE”, says Migra Studium. But in October, the CIEs reopened again, under even more difficult conditions, as visits by family members, organisations and NGOs are restricted.
The hostility represented by the CIE contrasted with testimonies of hospitality. Migrants or refugees who have been able to count on the welcome and support of the hospitality network. During the vigil, which had a vindicative and contemplative dimension, texts from different religious traditions were read and candles were lit to represent the suffering of all the people who leave their land in search of a better present and future.