A group of around 43 immigrants, many of them Nigerians and Senegalese, have locked themselves into a Barcelona, Spain church after they were evicted from warehouses in the city on Wednesday. The immigrants had lived there for two years.
With the permission of a local priest, the immigrants spent Wednesday night in Barcelona's Sant Bernat Calbó church after being evicted from industrial warehouses in the Poblenou district of Barcelona.
The two run-down warehouses have been their home for two years. Reportedly there was no incident when the police evicted them, but they all headed to the local church for shelter.
According to city authorities, they were offered alternative accommodation immediately after their eviction. However, local groups supporting the immigrants said that this accommodation was only good for three days, and was not a permanent solution.
As this was an emergency situation, authorities have since said that the housing would be on a longer-term basis.
Previously the town hall in Barcelona has promised that they would find accommodation for all the former warehouse residents. Municipal sources say that they have rehoused 137 immigrants since January. The immigrants' support group, however, says that this rehousing process has been too slow.
In this latest development, more than 50 of the immigrants, who were living in the two warehouses, decided to stage a lock-in in the local church in protest. They hope that their protest will make the mayor of Barcelona, Xavier Trias, "fulfill his promise" to leave no one in the street.
Enrique Mosquera, a spokesperson for one of the local social rights groups told the media, "This is not about sleeping, it's about fighting for a dignified place to sleep."
Many of the immigrants make a living by selling scrap metal, but this does not make sufficient money for a decent home.
They will now be meeting with officials at Barcelona's town hall on Thursday to discuss details of possible new accommodation. In the process, they are also hoping to put a little pressure on authorities to offer them residence in Spain.
Reportedly the night at the church passed peacefully and locals brought food and other items for the group.