Over 20,000 Ukrainian refugees now in Catalonia

Around 70% of those fleeing war are living with relatives or friends as local authorities help them look for work

Traditional giants dancing in an event to welcome refugees in Guissona, western Catalonia, on April 9, 2022 (by Anna Berga)
Traditional giants dancing in an event to welcome refugees in Guissona, western Catalonia, on April 9, 2022 (by Anna Berga) / Guifré Jordan

Guifré Jordan | Barcelona

April 12, 2022 02:12 PM

Over 20,000 Ukrainian refugees have already arrived in Catalonia since the war began on February 24.

The Catalan government spokesperson, Patrícia Plaja, told reporters on Tuesday after the weekly cabinet meeting that 20,134 people from the Eastern European country have crossed the continent to settle in Catalonia.

According to Plaja, around 30% are staying in accommodation set up by authorities, while the rest are living with relatives or friends.

The humanitarian crisis in Ukraine is still evident in Catalonia, with various organizations still making efforts to help those in need.

Entities and government continue efforts to welcome refugees

Fundació del Convent de Santa Clara, led by famed nun Sor Lucía Caram, is calling for donations to collect enough funds to send two ambulances with humanitarian aid to Ukraine.

Last week, the same charity returned from their fourth trip to Eastern Europe to pick up refugees. Over 200 people were helped to travel to Catalonia.

Authorities are also maintaining their efforts to welcome refugees, including the welcome site at the Fira de Barcelona exhibition center where newcomers can get information on their situation.

The Catalan government has also approved a €120-million plan to withstand the effects of the war in Ukraine, which includes welcoming refugees "with dignity" and granting aid to businesses most impacted by the conflict.

Local authorities helping new arrivals find work

Local authorities are also coping with the situation, especially in Guissona, western Catalonia, where before the war, around 1,000 of its residents were Ukrainians, some 15% of the town’s total population.

On Saturday, Guissona hosted several activities to raise funds and welcome the 270 refugees that have already arrived. Initially, the local council had said that they only had the capacity for 200 newcomers.

A stroll including breakfast, a solidarity concert, and some dancing of traditional Catalan parade giants and 'capgrossos' ('big heads' often seen in parades) were part of the events.

Most of the new arrivals are staying with their relatives, and 74% of the minors who have arrived have already been enrolled in schools.

Mayor Jaume Ars said on Saturday that, after having welcomed them all, their priority is now to help refugees find work.

Filling the Sink podcast

On our podcast, Filling the Sink, we explored refugees' first steps of their new life in Catalonia in more depth in a recent episode you can listen to below.