1,200 Ukrainian refugees already in Catalonia, with 2,000 beds ready
Red Cross sending three trailers of humanitarian aid expected to help 11,000 people in Eastern Europe
Around 1,200 refugees fleeing from the war in Ukraine are already in Catalonia, the government revealed on Tuesday.
They are arriving by car, bus, train, and at least 200 of them have come to Catalonia by plane. Most of them are women with children. Some have relatives or acquaintances in Catalonia that will take them in.
Cabinet spokesperson Patrícia Plaja said that on top of the 400 beds that were already made available shortly after the war broke out, another 2,000 will be ready in the near future, as well as more provided by the Spanish government.
Indeed, Catalonia will have one of the three largest reception centers for Ukrainians in Spain. The Spanish migration minister told Spanish radio station RNE on Monday that Madrid and Alacant (Alicante) will also have welcome centers, saying the three locations were "close to the main networks of the Ukrainian community," although the exact municipalities have not been disclosed.
Plaja also called on the public to help during this humanitarian crisis through NGOs and other organizations active on site in Eastern Europe.
Those willing to host minors without guardians have to start the process by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. This is an email address to get in touch with Catalonia's child and teenager care department (DGAIA).
The government's equality department has also set up an email address for Ukrainians arriving in Catalonia: email@example.com. Psychological help, interpreters and legal advice are offered through this email address and the 012 hotline.
The email address firstname.lastname@example.org, set up by Barcelona's lawyers association (ICAB), is also available to provide legal advice for Ukrainians wanting to move to Catalonia. This is part of ICAB's 'Ukrainian Population Assistance', providing legal help not only to potential refugees, but also to NGOs and organizations willing to help in the region.
100 child refugees from Nikopol orphanages
Some non-governmental organizations are making efforts to welcome Ukrainians. Around 100 child refugees from the Ukrainian city of Nikopol will be welcomed to Catalonia from Wednesday.
TANU, a charity based in Terrassa that has managed programs bringing children from Nikopol to Catalonia since 1999, has launched a special initiative to find foster homes to take in refugees from orphanages in the city.
Temporary custody has already been given to families who have offered to help, many of whom have previously taken in children via TANU.
The majority of the boys and girls arriving already have a basic level of Catalan or Spanish, as many of them have stayed with Catalan host families during Christmas and summer vacations, as part of the NGO's program.
On this occasion, however, the war in Ukraine means that they will stay in Catalonia for as long as necessary, until it is safe for them to return.
Red Cross sends three trucks to Hungary
The Red Cross is also working to welcome refugees, as well as sending humanitarian aid.
On Tuesday, the NGO sent three trailers from Catalonia with 1,600 blankets, 5,000 plastic tarpaulins, 1,913 cooking kits and other specialized material that Red Cross has used before in conflicts.
It is the third time that the organization has sent trucks with humanitarian aid from Spain – in total, 15 lorries will have been sent in these past two weeks.
The trucks began their journey by road from Sant Martí de Tous, in central Catalonia, and will travel to Hungary, where an International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) hub is located. From there, the material will be distributed to those in need in Ukraine, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Moldova, Russia and Slovakia.
Spanish government simplifies bureaucracy for refugees
The Spanish government is also easing the arrival of refugees, simplifying the bureaucracy they have to go through.
The cabinet meeting on Tuesday agreed that Ukrainians will be able to "directly" obtain residence and work permits.
This is a temporary measure that applies to those fleeing from war, but also to those who were in Spain prior to February 24 and cannot return to their country now.