Around 2,000 refugees to be hosted in Catalonia “for a long time”
Barcelona (CNA).- Catalonia is to host around 2,000 war refugees as a response to the migrant crisis. Catalan Government spokeswoman and Minister of Social Affairs, Neus Munté, together with Mayor of Barcelona Ada Colau, agreed on a coordinated answer during a meeting held this Monday with several social entities. “The number may be higher” said Munté and added that they will stay “for a long period of time”. The goal of the accommodation process is to integrate these refugees as much as possible and guarantee their access to the health and education system. More than 2,000 families have already shown their willingness to host refugees, which shows “the solidarity of Catalan people” said Colau, highlighting the families’ attitude as “crucial” in forcing the government to react. During the meeting, both Colau and Munté urged the Spanish government to “accelerate the asylum process” and announce the resources that the EU will allocate for this matter.
“Long term” refugees
Munté insisted that the reception will not be temporary, “the refugees will come for a long time and the hosting mechanism must be one of long-term integration”, she said. In a similar vein, Colau emphasised that the situation was not at “crisis point” and added that “the process could take years and years”. For this reason, the goal of the administration is to “integrate them” as much as possible, guarantee their access to the health system and make sure that children are welcome in the education system.
The idea is that the first phase of the reception will be made through the hostel network and during the second stage the refugees will be provided with more stable accommodation.
27 euros per refugee per day
Welcoming these refugees should be appropriately funded. Munté explained that, until now, the state has contributed 27 euros per refugee per day. This figure “will need to be studied” to see whether it is sufficient to meet the needs of these people. In any event, she guaranteed that the Catalan Government will provide all necessary care for the refugees.
The role of the families
Families and individuals were the first to react. More than 2,000 families registered to host refugees even before any coordinated answer was agreed upon by the administrations. This solidarity is to be taken into account and families will be able to carry out supportive tasks, supervised by professionals.
During the meeting, Colau and Munté urged the Spanish government to “accelerate the asylum process” and announce the resources that the EU will allocate for this matter.
Munté has asked the Spanish government not to bargain over the share assigned by the EU at the European summit which will take place on the 14th September. Although the Spanish government has exclusive powers to deal with asylum, Catalonia wants to establish a coordinated strategy between various organisations and institutions to facilitate the reception of refugees. However, as Munté pointed out on numerous occasions, “the last word will come from the Spanish government”.
Too little, too late
The Spanish government sets the quotas for each Autonomous Community. Until now, the Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, has refused to accept more than 2,749 refugees, but during the first half of the year the Interior Ministry received 6,202 asylum applications. International pressure from civil society, municipal and even regional governments suggests that Rajoy will have to give in. Last week, speculation arose that Spain would have to take in some 15,000 refugees, which is six times the amount that Rajoy suggested. 2,000 refugees could be allocated to Catalonia.
This coming Tuesday and Wednesday, the Autonomous Communities will meet with the Spanish government to address the issue, just days before the 14th of September, when the EU will give a definitive answer. Munté believes that the European response has come late, after "many years of looking the other way", with the conflicts in Syria and Eritrea, among other places, having been ongoing for years and having long given rise to a migratory exodus. She criticised the EU for not having “acted more forcefully a long time ago”.