Spain is at the bottom of the EU when it comes to granting asylum

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underage migrants

Spain is at the bottom of the list of European countries when it comes to granting international protection. Only 12% of asylum applications were approved in 2023, 30 points lower than the EU average.

This is evident from the annual report of the Spanish Aid to Refugees Committee (CEAR). Spain received 163,220 asylum applications, surpassed only by Germany (351,510) and France (166,880).

Increase in asylum applications and waiting lists

The number of asylum applications increased by 37.3% in 2023, despite significant barriers to accessing the procedure. The approval rate fell from 16.5% in 2022 to 12% in 2023. In addition, the number of pending applications increased by 56%, leaving 191,095 people in uncertainty.

Lack of prior agreements

A major problem remains the lack of available appointments for asylum applications. This has led to a black market for appointment sales. This left thousands of people in legal limbo, without protection and in uncertain circumstances, sometimes for up to nine months. CEAR criticises the conditions in the asylum halls of Madrid-Barajas Airport. Hundreds of people were staying there under appalling conditions at the end of 2023.

Structural challenges and discrimination

In addition to procedural obstacles, migrants and refugees face great difficulties in obtaining basic rights such as housing, employment, health care and access to bank accounts. These problems are exacerbated by increasing racial discrimination and the failure to recognise asylum seekers’ documentation.

Increase in arrivals in the Canary Islands

In 2023, 39,910 people entered Spain through the Canary Islands, accounting for 70% of all arrivals. CEAR emphasises the need for a stable reception structure on both the islands and the mainland, especially given the increase in women and unaccompanied minors applying for asylum.

Consequences of the European Migration and Asylum Pact

CEAR further warns of the negative consequences of the recently approved European Migration and Asylum Pact. According to the organisation, this pact strengthens border controls and focuses on the rapid deportation of migrants, without sufficient investment in legal and safe migration routes. According to CEAR, this will have serious consequences for the human rights and lives of migrants and refugees. CEAR concludes that reforms in Spain’s asylum policy are urgently needed to better comply with international obligations and humanitarian standards.

Also read: The deadly side of Spain’s seas


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