Sants train station welcoming hundreds of Ukrainian refugees daily

Catalonia’s Red Cross there to welcomes new arrivals and provide assistance

Ukrainian refugees in Sants heading for the Red Cross help center on March 22 (by Angus Clelland)
Ukrainian refugees in Sants heading for the Red Cross help center on March 22 (by Angus Clelland) / Angus Clelland

Angus Clelland | Barcelona

March 24, 2022 05:43 PM

Barcelona’s Sants railway station continues to be a major port of entry for refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine, as every day multiple trains come in carrying hundreds who have traveled west to escape the conflict. The trains in question are classified as “special trains” and originate from Paris.

Catalonia’s branch of the Red Cross, the Creu Roja, has set up a base in the facility to help refugees once they arrive in the Catalan capital, with dozens of volunteers who speak Ukrainian and Russian there to provide assistance, be it shelter, food, or directing them towards further travel.

Enric Morist, a representative of the Red Cross, said to Catalan News on Tuesday, “the first step is to receive them, determining if they are staying [in Barcelona] for now or are in transit.”

The association has also organized a series of shuttle buses in collaboration with the TMB, Barcelona’s public transport authority, which take refugees to the refugee reception center at the Fira de Barcelona exhibition venue .

Morist added that the Red Cross works alongside the Catalan authorities to help with the necessary administrative assistance resulting from a move to Catalonia, such as gaining  access to Catalan healthcare, and “once they have been accommodated, the Department of Education helps with the schooling of children when it is possible.”

Coming to Catalonia

Some of the refugees have come to Spain due to having family or friends in the country. “We have family here, and they told us that it would be possible to find shelter, so we have come here,” Lana Tribuk told Catalan News on Tuesday.

However, for many, including Lana, Barcelona is not their final destination, but “a place to change to another train” to go elsewhere on the Iberian peninsula. “We are not staying in Barcelona. We have to keep traveling through Spain,” she added.

Some still do not even have an end point decided yet, such as Vitaliy Taranenko: “For now I want to spend some time alone and later I will make a decision as to what to do next.”

Vitaliy has also had to make the very difficult decision of leaving his family in Kyiv. “I have two children who are still in Kyiv, my wife isn’t sending them to Europe with me, we’re having some problems,”he explained.

The refugee situation

As of Thursday Catalonia is housing almost 11,000 Ukrainian refugees, and over 200 reach the territory each day via Sants station alone

Furthermore, the influx of refugees shows no sign of slowing down, as Patrícia Plaja, the spokesperson for the Catalan government, pointed out that "there is no cap" as to the number of people who may come to Catalonia.

All over Catalonia, measures are being taken to accommodate the influx of Ukrainian refugees, from helping people register for residency, schooling, healthcare, housing and work, to providing shelter, on top of the humanitarian aid that is being sent to Ukraine from Catalonia.

Furthermore, those displaced by the war in Ukraine who obtain temporary protection will be able to access all active employment policies once they have registered with the SOC, the Catalan job seekers’ office.

Filling the Sink podcast

Listen to our podcast on the impact of the Ukraine war in Catalonia with voices from those protesting on a daily basis to defend their country.