Barcelona (ACN).- Around twenty people are sleeping in the T2 Terminal building of El Prat Airport in Barcelona. Hiding behind the old service check-in desks, the foreigners form small groups of friends and use the empty area to live and sleep. However, they will soon have to abandon their abode as night access restrictions are put into place by the airport operator, Aena, in mid-February. El Prat is going to have only one guarded, night entrance available for travellers or workers, a measure that was previously used to expel the homeless from the airport.
One of the groups staying there, comprising of an Argentine, German, American and Romanian, is indignant of the changes happening. Ariel, from Argentina, said: "We are paying for the mistakes of others." In his opinion, there are only two or three trouble-makers amongst the airport dwellers. "They should only take action against the offending few," agreed his German friend, Manfred. He thinks it would be more effective to isolate the offenders and find them places to stay in any social institution rather than closing the airport to all the homeless.
The problem makers are blamed for begging for food from restaurants; defecating and urinating in corners as well as trying to steal. One can smell from a distance that many of the issues arise from alcohol abuse.
Manfred is skeptical of Aena's new restriction measures and said: "Aena has already tried several times [to evict the homeless] but it hasn't worked." Ariel, on the other hand, finds the action "very radical [and] very extreme." He can't believe that the airport operator can leave the twenty airport dwellers on the street without taking any solidarity measures.
Albert, a 62 year old from Reus, in southern Catalonia, is a heavy drinker but tries to keep a low profile. Although he has a family, he does not want them to know about his plight if he is publicly expelled. In order to escape their current situation, Albert, Ariel and others leave the airport during the day to try to find work or help. Ariel describes the reality of getting room at a shelter: "I've gone to public shelters, and it does help, but it is very difficult for many people who are in this situation, the waiting list to stay there is long."
Although crime has been steadily dropping since 2006 and police patrolling the terminals of Barcelona's airport have already stated that the airport is safe and under control, Aena is going forward with their plans. Ariel and others must now make a plan to find new accommodation in Barcelona, or get enough money together to return to their respective countries.