Barcelona exhibition center to host large site for Ukrainian refugees

Venue will be ready on Friday and will work as initial welcome hub before final allocation

Image of Barcelona's Plaça Espanya square and the Fira Barcelona exhibition hall (by Fira Barcelona)
Image of Barcelona's Plaça Espanya square and the Fira Barcelona exhibition hall (by Fira Barcelona) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

March 14, 2022 05:47 PM

Ukrainian refugees arriving in Catalonia will be first welcomed at a center that will be set up at the Fira de Barcelona exhibition hall, as confirmed by the Spanish migration minister, José Luis Escrivá, on Monday.

The same pavilion in the facility located in the Catalan capital lodged vulnerable people in the toughest months of Covid-19 and will start welcoming refugees from Friday.

There are at least 5,000 Ukrainian refugees in Catalonia, according to figures shared on Thursday by the government. They have been staying at friends and relatives’ houses, but also at some hostels offered by officials. 

Last week, Escrivá announced that there would be three big welcome centers in Spain, one of them in Barcelona.

In the exhibition center, located just next to the city's Plaça Espanya, those fleeing from war will be taken care of before moving to their final allocation within Catalonia. The center will only operate during the day and people who do not have accommodation allocated to them will be temporarily put up in hotels.

The facility will also be used by refugees passing through Catalonia before going to a final destination elsewhere in Spain or Portugal. 

The hub will also be useful for those Ukrainians who wish to go through basic paperwork in the country and also for authorities to better organize the arrival of especially "vulnerable" people, like orphan or sick children. 

The site will be the operations center for Red Cross, an NGO organizing the shipment of humanitarian aid and helping welcome newcomers. 

Spanish government simplifies bureaucracy for refugees

Talking from Brussels, Escrivá also reminded that the Spanish government is also easing the arrival of refugees, simplifying the bureaucracy they have to go through.

The cabinet meeting last week 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.