Despite having a history of being a welcoming and friendly culture, Spain does not have a very inviting asylum policy. Citizens are pushing their leaders to make Spain a viable location for refugees escaping war-torn countries. Here are 10 facts about Spain refugees.
- There were over one million sea arrivals to Europe for refugees in 2015 but only a few thousand went to Spain. There were 1.3 million asylum applications logged but only 13,000 in Madrid.
- In 2015, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy issued a statement agreeing that Spain would take only 2,749 refugees. Rajoy believed that due to Spain’s current economic struggles, they could not support an influx of refugees. This number is “less than half of the quote requested by the EU.”
- Spanish citizens protested and pressured local governments to change this decision and Rajoy changed the refugee quota to 14,931 in addition to the 2,749.
- Even though Spain claimed to have accepted roughly 15,000 refugees over a six-month period in 2015 and 2016, Spain only accepted 18 people according to Spanish NGOs.
- In response to this, big cities like Barcelona and Madrid planned a countrywide network for citizens to register to have refugees to stay in their personal homes.
- Other cities have offered to join this network. Valencia, the island of Mallorca and the region of Castilla y Leon also pledged to work with local banks, public buildings and universities to receive housing for Spain’s refugees.
- Spain refugees see the country as a stepping stone to getting farther north in Europe. Many want to continue on to Germany.
- Spain refugees are placed in reception centers for six months. There they receive food, shelter, clothing, legal aid and counseling. “After six months, you don’t get anything. Spain simply throws you out into the street,” says Bashar Haousheh, a Syrian refugee in Spain.
- The percentage of Syrian refugees arriving in Spain was 44.2 percent in 2015, over triple that of the next largest nationality, Guinea (Conakry), at 13.6 percent.
- Madrid has pledged 10 million euros towards resettlement services. Madrid’s football team, Real Madrid, has pledged over one million euros and the use of its facilities to incoming refugees.
Even though Spain’s recent attempts at accepting refugees are lower than past years, and regardless of the government putting staunch regulations on incoming refugees, the regular citizens of Spain still want to give their assistance and try to make a difference.
– Karyn Adams