MADRID – Where can you sign up if you live in Spain and want to receive refugees from Ukraine? It is not easy to answer this simple question. Much of the information is general and refers you to complicated procedures through various authorities.
To date, 3.7 million Ukrainians have left their country. Another 12 million people in Ukraine need help. This is one of the fastest and largest exodus ever. Furthermore, it is so close to our borders. This means that many people want to do something concrete. This includes, foreigners who live or regularly stay in Spain.
Especially donations needed
Logically, there are procedures in place to check whether you have the right background in combination with the right intentions to take in a family or individuals. Organisations such as UNHCR, Unicef, or the Red Cross mainly ask for donations to coordinate the aid they provide to refugees. With that money, they pay for relief goods, medicines, food, transport to transport those goods and the refugees, and the costs of setting up reception locations in countries such as Poland and Moldova, etc.
Aid organisations flooded with offers of help
According to several Spanish newspapers, the aid organisations in Spain involved in the reception of refugees from Ukraine have already been overwhelmed by the demand from people who want to help. However, they lack the people and resources to properly evaluate the families that present themselves according to the procedures. Families that have previously taken care of children or refugees, therefore, take precedence. This is because they have already gone through the procedures necessary to receive refugees.
The avalanche of those interested in receiving that fleeing war overwhelms everyone. The Ministry of Inclusion and the various autonomous regions (which have reception powers) are also trying to streamline the processes. They try to set up spaces as quickly as possible to receive people and from where they can relocate them.
Do not offer yourself too lightly as a reception address
ONGs with experience in the reception of refugees call for calm and emphasise that the matter should not be taken lightly. It also often does not go as well as expected. Furthermore, refugees are traumatised or depressed and do not want to be anywhere other than home, which no longer exists. Not everyone is suited to deal with these kinds of complex situations. It is therefore important, says Aldeas Infantiles, that “all control mechanisms and channels are followed to ensure compliance with the reception protocol”, approved by the European Commission.
Competence lies with autonomous regions
The competence for reception corresponds to the autonomous communities in consultation with the central administration. Any interested person should contact the social affairs department of his region. In addition, this shelter has to meet a series of requirements that, due to their complexity, take a lot of time. A family is not just suitable. “We should not shorten that procedure, because that would pose a serious risk for the people who are being taken care of and for those who are taking them in.”
Control who wants to help
The persons who want to receive refugees can not have criminal and sexual antecedents and no medical reports of addictions or infectious diseases. They must also undertake to financially bear all costs arising from the reception.
Three general reception locations
Spain has set up three first reception locations in Madrid, Barcelona, and Alicante. Those are the regions whith the largest number of registered people from Ukraine. Refugees will be the first to approach their relatives or circle of acquaintances for immediate reception. The first processes are arranged at these locations, such as registrations, possible medical assistance, residence and work permits are issued, etc. The refugees are also interviewed there to find out where they can best be placed
The strictest procedure when taking care of children
The procedure for minor, unaccompanied children is especially strict. It runs through the Ukrainian embassy, where they must be identified. In addition, competent Spanish authorities are involved. All this is to avert the danger of organisations lurking in human trafficking.
Municipalities are coordinating private initiatives too
Although less defenseless, the treatment of adult refugees should also be with caution. “Municipalities, autonomous communities and aid organisations already specialised in refugee shelter or the central government should coordinate private initiatives to provide houses and housing to refugees. That is to ensure that the people who welcome the refugees are sufficiently reliable.
Need help from professionals
Moreover, anyone who provides shelter can also make use of support from professionals. They offer guidance and support as well as a point of contact when in doubt. Also at the level of translation and psychological, refugee organisation Acnur reports in an article in the newspaper El Confidencial.
General information number
In response to our question about where people in Spain who want to host refugee families can register, the Red Cross Spain came up with the following: “The La Caixa Foundation, in collaboration with the Ministry of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration, is launching a service to connect foster families with refugee families in different parts of the territory in the provinces of Madrid, Barcelona, Murcia and Malaga. If you want to participate in the Ukrainian refugee family reception program for at least 6 months, do not hesitate to contact them:
- Free phone: 900 670 909
- Hours: Monday to Sunday, 9am to 10pm.
How long should you be able to guarantee help?
One of the most common questions among those who want to help is how long they should guarantee the shelter. At the moment, the organisation Sonrisas de Ucrania asks that you can ensure the shelter for at least a month, although you have to take into account that the situation can take longer. This depends on any subsequent procedures.
“We always make sure that people can go to a foster family indefinitely because we don’t know how long this can last,” explains Jonathan Hergueta, founder of the organisation Sonrisas de Fe.
At the moment, both organisations pay for everything with their money or donations. They now mainly need financial or logistical help to carry out the transport of the refugees to Spain. “Everything works through word of mouth. The city council is trying to keep a register here, but the procedures have to be faster,” says Korolova.
Juntos por la Vida
The association Juntos por la Vida also helps to accommodate refugees from Ukraine in Spain. On their website, they emphasise that families are kept together so that whoever offers help should take this into account. If you want to offer yourself as a reception location, you can fill in a contact form. There is also an account number for donations.
Infancia de NAD
Organisation Infancia de NAD points out that they have already closed the registry for shelter and that it is especially important now to receive donations. They help single children with childcare. This requires a lot of money. For transport, hotels on the road, foodstuffs, and other collecting material.
The organisation already takes in orphans from Ukraine in the summer and at Christmas and therefore already has a list of possible reception families that have already gone through all the procedures.
Expoaccion Association has sent at least one bus to Ukraine to pick up Ukrainian families. The email address for families who can welcome refugees is firstname.lastname@example.org. The aid organisation is simultaneously conducting food and clothing collections in different parts of the city, it reports on its Facebook account.
Ukraine in Andalucia
The association Ukraine and Andalucia insists on financial support on its website. So far they have struggled to evacuate the refugees. You can fill out a document if you are willing to accommodate a family. This document also contains the conditions. For example, you must attend all information and training meetings that the association organises before the arrival of the refugees. You must meet the association’s board of directors in person and provide all the information and documentation they require from you. You must also promise to cover the costs of the refugees’ travel and insurance costs.