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UKRAINE

How Spain plans to house Ukrainian refugees

The Spanish government on Tuesday agreed to give Ukrainian refugees access to work, healthcare, financial assistance and education in Spain. Here’s how many people Spain currently has the capacity to house and how authorities are planning to help.

Ukrainian refugees
Ukrainian refugees. Photo: Louisa GOULIAMAKI / AFP

As per the EU’s activation of the Temporary Protection Directive announced last week, the Spanish government on Tuesday approved the measure waive visa rules for Ukrainian refugees and allow them temporary residence in Spain.

The Temporary Protection Directive means that any Ukrainian citizen can stay within the EU or Schengen zone for a year without having to apply for a visa or make a claim for asylum. During this time, they will be allowed to work, have access to healthcare and financial support and children will be able to go to school in Spain.

READ ALSO: EU countries agree to lift visa rules for Ukrainians fleeing war

The Spanish government has agreed to extend this measure further to include third-country nationals who had residence in Ukraine at the time of the Russian invasion.

In a recent press conference, spokesperson for the Spanish government, Isabel Rodríguez said that Ukrainian nationals who were in Spain since February 24th and could not return home, would also be able to access the residence and work permit, as well as those who were in an irregular situation before this date.

According to the latest Spanish government statistics, this means that it could also include around 15,000 Ukrainians in Spain who were already living in Spain, but who were not legally registered or who had not applied for their certificate of empadronamiento

She also confirmed that this measure includes the spouses of those who request protection and their children who are minors.

Rodríguez also added that the government aims to simplify the procedures involved in order to give them access to a residence permit quickly. 

The Spanish government website confirms that “If you are a Ukrainian national and wish to enter Spain, you do not need to apply for a visa if you have a biometric passport. If you are Ukrainian and want to enter Spain, but you do not have a biometric passport or travel documents, you can go to a consular office of a country bordering Ukraine (for example, Poland, Romania, Hungary, etc.) to have your situation studied”.

For those arriving in Spain without documents, it states: “If you do not have a passport or any travel documents, please present your birth certificate or any document that proves your identity, as well as, if you have it, any document that proves your residence in Ukraine before February 24th, 2022”.

READ ALSO: How you can help Ukraine from Spain

How many Ukrainian refugees will Spain accept?

The Minister of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration, José Luis Escrivá, has confirmed that Spain will have 12,000 places available for Ukrainian refugees.

In an interview with Spanish national radio Mañanas de RNE, Escrivá said that 6,000 of these places would be provided by the various regions in Spain and a further 6,000 will be provided by the social system. He also added that in the event that there are not enough places available “we will make more”. He said that the government is “flexible”.

“They will know their rights, and will be interviewed upon arrival to find out their needs and be able to refer them to the most appropriate resources,” confirmed Escrivá.

He added that not many people have arrived yet, and those that have, have done so mainly through the family networks of Ukrainians in the country, however he anticipates a mass arrival in the coming days. “We have to be prepared for a significant volume,” he said.

The UN High Commission for Refugees estimates that 1 million Ukrainians have already left the country and this number is expected to increase as Russia intensify their attacks. 

Where will the refugees be housed?

Escrivá confirmed that Ukrainian refugees would initially arrive at three different locations in Spain – Pozuelo de Alarcón in Madrid, Barcelona and Alicante. More arrival points could be added based on the number of refugees Spain was receiving.

Support teams will be present to make the new arrivals aware of the rights they’ve been granted in Spain and they will be interviewed to find out their needs. From there, they will be transported to Spain’s various regions to be housed. 

The national government, regional governments and city halls are all currently working on a coordinated reception plan, with Castilla y León, Madrid, Murcia and Galicia offering the majority of places so far.

The government of Castilla y León has offered 1,800 residential places to Ukrainian refugees, while Madrid has offered 1,209 places available in social centres for old people, hostels, shelters and homes for domestic violence victims.

🇺🇦 UCRANIA-INFORMACIÓN PARA PERSONAS DESPLAZADAS

🔵🟡 En esta web tienes información de utilidad:

📋Qué necesitas para entrar en España

🇪🇸 Soy ucraniano y ya estoy en España

📞Teléfonos y contacto

ℹ️ Procedimiento de acogida

🆘 Protección temporal

👇👇https://t.co/qoEXrsdP3L pic.twitter.com/efNHn3bh4J

— Ministerio Inclusión Seguridad Social Migraciones (@inclusiongob) March 8, 2022

Murcia has offered more than 1,200 places that are being organised by NGOs, and Galicia has offered 1,000 places through a combination of the Galician government, local councils and social entities.

Madrid authorities have highlighted that they have 77,000 places available at schools in the region for young Ukrainians.

Spain’s other regions have also offered places to Ukrainian refugees, but significantly less. The Balearic Islands have offered places in hostels and in Navarra and Aragón, families have been identified to take care of unaccompanied Ukrainian children.

The government of the Canary Islands has also agreed to accept Ukrainian refugees, but at the moment they cannot increase the number of places available because their resources are already stretched by refugees and immigrants arriving from Africa, including almost 3,000 unaccompanied minors.

“There is a lot of solidarity and we get all kinds of offers,” Escrivá said in a recent interview with Cadena Ser. 

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UKRAINE

Ukrainian grain dodges Russian blockade to reach Spain via new route

A Ukrainian grain shipment arrived in Spain on Monday after being shipped via the Baltic Sea to circumvent Russia’s blockade, imposed following the outbreak of war, a Spanish association said.

Ukrainian grain dodges Russian blockade to reach Spain via new route

The Finnish-flagged cargo ship, the Alppila, carrying 18,000 tonnes of grain for animal feed docked at A Coruña port in northwestern Spain early on Monday, the Agafac food manufacturers association said.

It said it was the first time such a route had been used for Ukrainian grain.

Agafac, which had placed the order, said the grain had been transported by lorry to the northwestern Polish port of Swinoujscie on the shores of the Baltic Sea.

It then called in at Brunsbuettel in northern Germany before heading for Spain.

This is “the first shipment of grain to be transported via a new sea route through the Baltic Sea to circumvent the Russian naval blockade on Ukrainian ports in the Black Sea that has been in place since the war began,” Agafac said.

Contacted by AFP, a spokesman for Ukraine’s agriculture ministry was unable to confirm whether or not it was the first such shipment of Ukrainian grain to travel via the Baltic Sea.

“We don’t have information about transportation specifically to Spain. We deliver to Romania, Poland. This is probably the logistics outside Ukraine,” he said.

When Russia invaded on February 24th, it imposed a naval blockade on Ukraine’s Black Sea ports that has choked off its grain exports, threatening a global food crisis.

Before the Russian invasion, Ukraine was the world’s top producer of sunflower oil and a major wheat exporter, but millions of tonnes of grain exports remain trapped due to the blockade.

President Volodymyr Zelensky has said Ukraine is currently exporting more than two million tonnes of grain a month via rail but that figure is far below what it was exporting before the war via its ports, notably Odessa.

The United Nations and certain countries like France and Turkey have been pushing for the opening of a “security corridor” in the Black Sea to allow Ukrainian exports to resume.

At the end of May, General Christopher Cavoli, the incoming head of the US European Command, said Germany’s railway company recently set up a “Berlin train lift” — a special train service to move Ukraine’s grain exports.

He said Poland was working on a simplified border crossing regime to ease the deliveries, and once out of Poland, the grain was taken to Germany’s northern ports to be shipped onwards.

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