Spain will not grant asylum to Ukrainians fleeing their country

by Lorraine Williamson
Ukrainian asylum seekers

MADRID – Ukrainians fleeing the tense situation at the border with Russia cannot count on a reception in Spain. The Ministries of the Interior and Justice will reject applications for asylum or any form of international protection.  

This concerns civilians who want to leave the country for their safety, and also those wanting to escape military service. This was the case, for example, with the Ukrainian T., who recently applied for asylum in Spain. His application was rejected twice; firstly by the Ministry of the Interior and then by the Supreme Court in an appeal in this case. 

39-year-old T. applied for asylum for himself and his partner because he had received three calls for military participation. He says he has already lost several friends in the war. Because many who went into the army did not get out alive, T. refused military service. That is why his life would now be in danger, according to the documents in his file. 

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Conscription Refusal 

Both the ministry and the Supreme Court do not consider military service – which is no longer in force – a motive for granting asylum. “If compulsory military service applies in the country of origin, this court cannot ensure that this civic duty is violated,” the court ruling said. In addition, according to the Supreme Court’s ruling, it has not been proven that refusal to join the Ukrainian military constitutes “degrading or inhumane treatment that would justify a reconsideration of the case”. There are even signs that the actual penalties for conscription refusal are not disproportionate. 

Not equally dangerous everywhere 

Most asylum applications are submitted for fear of dying in the firefight between Ukrainians and pro-Russian groups. In these cases, the situation in the applicant’s place of residence is examined on a case-by-case basis. The conflict with Russia is not equally dangerous for all parts of Ukraine. Therefore, only applications from the tensest areas will be considered. 

Since the start of the war in eastern Ukraine (when Russia occupied Crimea in 2014), Spain has received more than 3,000 asylum applications. Data from the Spanish Commission for Refugee Assistance (CEAR) shows that in 2020 Spain approved 232 asylum applications and rejected 2,768. 

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