MADRID – The Spanish evacuation operation transferred a total of more than 1900 people from Kabul to Torrejón de Ardoz Air Force Base (Madrid). The mission to collect as many people as possible from the Taliban-occupied area of Afghanistan has now ended.
On Thursday afternoon, the last 95 passengers arrived on a flight operated by the European External Action Service (SEAE). And another 240 Afghan employees arrived on an Air Europa aircraft. Before that, 1,584 people had already been accommodated at the air force base. Among the evacuees are 613 minors, 185 members of the European contingent command, and 133 American workers. These last two groups will leave the base within the next day or so.
In a tweet from Spanish Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez, he said “At 7:17 am this morning, the last Spanish evacuation flight landed in Dubai with the personnel and collaborators who have remained in Afghanistan until the last minute to make this repatriation mission possible. Thanks to everybody”.
According to the latest data from the Ministry of the Interior, 1,340 people have so far applied for international protection at the Asylum and Refugee Office. Therefore, as soon as these people have been assigned a place within the reception system of the Spanish government, the procedure will continue near that new location.
Expansion of reception capacity
Until 2024, the Spanish government wants to expand the capacity of this reception system to a total of 15,000 places. Currently, there are 10,000. Therefore, this will involve an investment of €174million from the European Facility for Recovery and Resilience.
Furthermore, of the people who have applied for asylum, 759 have been transferred to reception centres in 14 autonomous regions. And in the coming days, another 125 people will be accommodated in these centres.
The reception system in Spain consists of a program of two phases, which together last between 18 and 24 months. The first phase concerns temporary shelter. This could be in shelters or in temporary housing provided by aid organisations such as the Spanish Commission for Refugee Assistance (CEAR) or the Red Cross. Then, in the second phase, the asylum procedure is completed, People can prepare for their independent life in society and become eligible for their own rental home. In addition, they are financially supported and social and, if necessary, psychological counseling is offered. Furthermore, part of the guidance is receiving Spanish lessons and training opportunities to enable them to start working in Spain.
Moved by Spain´s efforts
Ursula von der Leyen, President of the @EU_Commission tweeted a statement.
Moved by the outstanding commitment and extraordinary strength we have witnessed today at the reception hub in Torrejón, Madrid.
It is our moral responsibility to help those who arrive in Spain, and those who remained in Afghanistan.
— Ursula von der Leyen (@vonderleyen) August 21, 2021