IWB present at the World Refugee Day

     Last month, members of IWB were able to attend several events the World Refugee Day, held every year on June 20. In Barcelona, the Catalan Commission for Refugee Aid (Comissió Catalana d’Ajuda al Refugiat/CCAR) and the Asil Cat network organized diverse activities to raise awareness of the need to protect and respect human rights, especially of the increasing number of refugees around the world. A cultural event, held on June 19, counted on the participation of several refugee testimonies and the reading of a manifest, signed by numerous non-governmental organizations, as ACATHI, ACCEM, CAPI-BPI, CCOO Barcelonès, Centre EXIL, CCAR, the Catalan Commission of the UNHCR, Fundació ACSAR, Fundació Casa del Tibet, the Bar Association of Barcelona, the Human Rights Institute of Catalonia and PEN Català.

The manifest reinforced the idea that no one should be suffering from discrimination based on race, religion, nationality, political opinion, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation or social origin and that urgent actions should be taken to resolve the tragic situation of the more than 50 million of displaced people worldwide (UNHCR). The manifest made reference to the refugee quotas proposed by the European Union for its member States and the worrying lack of commitment of the latter to take responsibilities, criticizing the Europe’s indifference and “fortification” through new walls that only increase the risk of losing their lives when refugees try to reach European ground. The Mediterranean Sea already counts with a shamefully high number of lost lives that shouldn’t be allowed to grow. The international community also cannot stay silent in front of the inhumane treatment received by those trying to cross the borders, especially regarding the situation at the fence in Ceuta or Melilla.


But in spite of the increasing numbers, during 2014, only 5.947 people applied for asylum in Spain, 786 in Catalonia. Out of these, 2.029, almost a 40%, were denied it. Catalonia, supported by the International Protection Plan in Catalonia (PPIC), approved by beginning of 2014, is working hard to improve the situation and grant aid to those in need, although, as often mentioned by Catalan authorities, the refugees and asylum matters are unfortunately not a competency of the Government of Catalonia (Generalitat de Catalunya), but of the Spanish government.

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on 16 July 2015

5 persons shared their opinion! Join the discussion!

  • Patricia Papuc said on Reply

    Thanks for sharing this experience with us. If you compare Spain with other hot spots of Europe regarding the refugee issue ( ex: Italy, Greece, Malta), do you think Spain is doing a better job in defending refugee rights?

    • Aleksandra Semeriak said on Reply

      Hello Patricia! I think there is still much space for improvement in Spain regarding the protection of refugees, especially what refers to the treatment of the irregular migrants that arrive to Spain crossing the borders in Ceuta or Melilla. The Public Safety Bill, enacted on July 1st of this year, legalizes the practice of summary returns, which means that migrants who manage to cross the Spanish-Moroccan border can be legally sent back to Morocco immediately, restricting the right to seek asylum and violating the non-refoulement principle. This bill has been passed by the governing conservative party, Partido Popular (who has the majority), with the opposition of the rest of the parties. So, considering this, I wouldn’t say Spain is doing a better job, although the upcoming elections might provide us with some improvement (hopefully).

  • Adina Nistor said on Reply

    Interesting event! It is mentioned at the end of the article that in 2014, almost 40% of asylum seekers received a negative response. Was it discussed why such a large number of people where turned away? And what happened to them? Thank you!

    • Aleksandra Semeriak said on Reply

      Adina, thank you for your comment! It was not discussed into detail, but many of the applicants stay without documentation or proceed to acquire a residency permit, at great risk to spending months in a Migrant Detention Center, which becomes a clear violation of human rights. Moreover, statistics from last year have shown that Spain is responsible for more than 60% of the asylum application rejections in the European Union. Indeed something that needs to be improved!

  • Patricia Papuc said on Reply

    Thanks for the info provided Aleksandra Semeriak. The situation of moroccans running to Spain is something I witnessed more then 10 years ago when I was in Tangiers. I was with my parents in an organized trip, with a guide and driver, the driver being Spanish. When we were supposed to leave Tangiers I saw how he went to our bus and pulled two moroccan children from somewhere near the tires. I was simply astonished but according to him that was a common practice, they were desperate to flee their country. It is very sad to see something like this.

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