THE European Parliament and the European Commission are going to investigate the living conditions of seasonal workers in Almeria and Huelva after fires destroyed hundreds of homes in both provinces.

The decision is a small victory for non-governmental organisations and human rights’ groups that have been putting pressure on the EU to take action for years.

“What we want is that the violation of human rights in these settlements be investigated in all senses, as human beings and as workers,” Pepa Suarez, spokesperson for the Multicultural Association of Mazagon and Almeria Acoge (IU), told El Pais.

The IU filed the petition in November 2020, demanding ‘an immediate and firm response’ from the EU to the living situations in Almeria and Huelva, and finally got the green light in early March.

“This implies the beginning of a preliminary investigation that, according to our experience in the Committee on Petitions, will presumably lead to a debate in the European Parliament on this matter and then the European Commission will have to take a stand,” said a spokesperson from the IU.

Both Almeria and Huelva are home to sprawling networks of greenhouses in which thousands of migrant workers pick fruit and vegetables for European supermarkets, including UK ones.

When Philip Alston, UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty, visited Huelva in early 2020, he described the migrants’ living conditions as ‘inhuman’, saying they rivalled ‘the worst [he] had seen anywhere in the world.’

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