A social response to global migration challenges

Services providing support at irregular settlements in the city have been reorganised and extended since 2015 to guarantee the rights of adults and children and combat the irregularity and social exclusion of people living at these sites.

13/06/2018 12:23 h


There are currently 77 irregular settlements in the city, which are home to an average of 536 people of various origins and profiles. The sites are generally on unused plots of land or in squatted industrial premises where inhabitants also carry out economic activity, usually scrap collection to be able to sell on the raw materials. The number of settlements varies throughout the year as their populations are mostly itinerant.

The phenomenon dates back to the end of the 1990s, with the arrival of sub-Saharan Africans who found it difficult to get work and residency permits, and has evolved due to different migration factors, such as the broadening of the Schengen territory. Social factors also play a part, an example being the rejection suffered by some communities such as the Romani people from Eastern Europe. Likewise, present day factors also have an influence, such as the expulsion of migrants from cities in the south of France or the north of Italy.

Municipal support

Barcelona runs two support services for people in irregular settlements. The two services are coordinated to guarantee safety, health and hygienic conditions at the sites, as well as ensuring basic rights and that the needs of adults and children living there are covered. The overall aim is to find a solution for the social exclusion of these people.

The Irregular Settlements Plan Office (ORPAI) and the Social Insertion Service for Non-Autochthonous Romani Families with Children (SISFA) have been working together since 2015 and now have more human and economic resources to provide social and legal responses which adapt to the needs of settlement inhabitants. The main services offered include advice on regularisation, socio-labour insertion and the schooling of children.

In the case of families and people living in the camps on an indefinite basis, support is provided for them and they receive advice on the possibility of accessing social housing, a long-term advisory process to tackle the itinerancy and economic activity of the majority of families.

The number of people attended to by the SIFTA between 2016 and 2017 rose from 481 to 594. For its part, the ORPAI helped fifty people get work and residency permits, thanks to their obtaining work contracts.


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