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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.


🔵🟡 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


— 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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Rapping, breakdancing Ukrainians win Eurovision in musical morale boost

Ukraine won the Eurovision Song Contest Sunday with an infectious hip-hop folk melody, boosting spirits in the embattled nation fighting off a Russian invasion that has killed thousands and displaced millions of people.

Rapping, breakdancing Ukrainians win Eurovision in musical morale boost

Riding a huge wave of public support, Kalush Orchestra beat 24 competitors in the finale of the world’s biggest live music event with “Stefania”, a rap lullaby combining Ukrainian folk and modern hip-hop rhythms.

“Please help Ukraine and Mariupol! Help Azovstal right now,” implored frontman Oleh Psiuk in English from the stage after their performance was met by a cheering audience.

In the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, the triumph was met with smiles and visible relief.

“It’s a small ray of happiness. It’s very important now for us,” said Iryna Vorobey, a 35-year-old businesswoman, adding that the support from Europe was “incredible”.

Following the win, Psiuk — whose bubblegum-pink bucket hat has made him instantly recognisable — thanked everyone who voted for his country in the contest, which is watched by millions of viewers.

“The victory is very important for Ukraine, especially this year. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Glory to Ukraine,” Psiuk told journalists.

Music conquers Europe

The win provided a much-needed morale boost for the embattled nation in its third month of battling much-larger Russian forces.

Mahmood & BLANCO  performing for Italy at Eurovision 2022

Mahmood & BLANCO perform on behalf of Italy during the final of the Eurovision Song contest 2022 in Turin, Italy. (Photo by Marco BERTORELLO / AFP)

“Our courage impresses the world, our music conquers Europe!” he wrote on Facebook.

“This win is so very good for our mood,” Andriy Nemkovych, a 28 year-old project manager, told AFP in Kyiv.

The victory drew praise in unlikely corners, as the deputy chief of the NATO military alliance said it showed just how much public support ex-Soviet Ukraine has in fighting off Moscow.

“I would like to congratulate Ukraine for winning the Eurovision contest,” Mircea Geoana said as he arrived in Berlin for talks that will tackle the alliance’s expansion in the wake of the Kremlin’s war.

“And this is not something I’m making in a light way because we have seen yesterday the immense public support all over Europe and Australia for the bravery of” Ukraine, Geoana said.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson called the win “a clear reflection of not just your talent, but of the unwavering support for your fight for freedom”.

And European Council President Charles Michel said he hoped next year’s contest “can be hosted in Kyiv in a free and united Ukraine”.

‘Ready to fight’
Despite the joyous theatrics that are a hallmark of the song contest, the war in Ukraine hung heavily over the festivities this year.
The European Broadcasting Union, which organises the event, banned Russia on February 25, the day after Moscow invaded its neighbour.
“Stefania”, written by Psiuk as a tribute to his mother before the war, mixes traditional Ukrainian folk music played on flute-like instruments with an invigorating hip-hop beat. The band donned richly embroidered ethnic garb
to perform their act.
Nostalgic lyrics such as “I’ll always find my way home even if all the roads are destroyed” resonated all the more as millions of Ukrainians have been displaced by war.

Kalush Orchestra received special authorisation from Ukraine’s government to attend Eurovision, since men of fighting age are prohibited from leaving the country, but that permit expires in two days.

Psiuk said he was not sure what awaited the band as war rages back home.

“Like every Ukrainian, we are ready to fight as much as we can and go until the end.

Britain’s ‘Space Man’

Ukraine beat a host of over-the-top acts at the kitschy, quirky annual musical event, including Norway’s Subwoolfer, who sang about bananas while dressed in yellow wolf masks, and Serbia’s Konstrakta, who questioned national healthcare while meticulously scrubbing her hands onstage.

Coming in second place was Britain with Sam Ryder’s “Space Man” and its stratospheric notes, followed by Spain with the reggaeton “SloMo” from Chanel.

After a quarter-century of being shut out from the top spot, Britain had hoped to have a winner in “Space Man” and its high notes belted by the affable, long-haired Ryder.

Britain had been ahead after votes were counted from the national juries, but a jaw-dropping 439 points awarded to Ukraine from the public pushed it to the top spot.

Eurovision’s winner is chosen by a cast of music industry professionals — and members of the public — from each country, with votes for one’s home nation not allowed.

Eurovision is a hit among fans not only for the music, but for the looks on display and this year was no exception. Lithuania’s Monika Liu generated as much social media buzz for her bowl cut hairdo as her sensual and elegant

Other offerings included Greece’s “Die Together” by Amanda Georgiadi Tenfjord and “Brividi” (Shivers), a duet from Italy’s Mahmood and Blanco.

Italy had hoped the gay-themed love song would bring it a second consecutive Eurovision win after last year’s “Zitti e Buoni” (Shut up and Behave) from high-octane glam rockers Maneskin.