Spain prepares shelter for tens of thousands of Ukrainian refugees

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Ukainians

MADRID – The Russian invasion of Ukraine has generated a sense of solidarity between the Spanish autonomous regions. Unlike other times, they are now working together to receive tens of thousands of Ukrainian refugees.

Things have not been so harmonious recently in the reception of minor asylum seekers from Morocco and Algeria. However, this time, all the regional governments in Spain have even offered to host Ukrainians. Even the Canary Islands are open to receiving additional refugees. This, while the migratory pressure on the archipelago has been unprecedentedly high for more than a year.

The largest influx of refugees since WWII

The national government wants to cope with the – according to the United Nations – the largest influx of refugees since the Second World War. That is why Madrid wants to start preparing 12,000 places and 5,000 hospital beds.

The UN already estimates the flow of refugees from Ukraine at about 2 million. Madrid expects tens of thousands of them to come to Spain shortly. With 111,413 registered, the number of Ukrainians already living in Spain is the largest except for the two countries.

Many Ukrainian refugees to relatives

Authorities say at least 2,000 people from Ukraine have already arrived in Spain. They are fleeing the war in their country caused by the Russian invasion of 24 February. The majority of these first refugees can stay with relatives in Spain. For others, the Ministry of Inclusion and Migration has opened three major reception centres in Pozuelo (Madrid), Barcelona, and Alicante. These centres handle all arrivals.

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Priority to children and the disabled

Spain wants to give priority to children, people with disabilities, and unaccompanied minors. Employees of the centres will interview each refugee to place them in the best possible place.

Family should stay together as much as possible

The intention is to keep families together in one house or to assign them several houses nearby. The authorities are also doing their best to accommodate Ukrainians in Spain where relatives already live. Moreover, refugees are given a place where they can most easily find suitable work, based on their profile.

Residence and work permit for one year

Once Ukrainians are registered at one of the three centres, they receive a residence permit and a work permit. Both are valid for one year with the option to extend for another year.

Other rights for Ukrainian refugees

In addition, the refugees from Ukraine are entitled to housing, medical assistance, education, social assistance, and financial support. If there are refugees who cannot go to relatives or friends in Spain at all, the reception system staff will designate a place for them.

Legality for Ukrainians already residing in Spain

On Wednesday, the Council of Ministers approved a decree regarding the thousands of Ukrainians already residing in Spain without papers. This will allow them to legally continue their residence in the coming period. The same goes for people of nationalities other than the Ukrainian, who were officially resident in Ukraine at the time of the Russian invasion on February 24.

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