Large families, with an average age of 22, and several children. This is the majority profile of the 1,672 Afghan refugees who were evacuated from Kabul and are already in reception centers and flats scattered throughout the autonomous communities, with the exception of the Canary Islands due to the large number of migrants that they regularly receive by sea. Of all the people who decided to request asylum in Spain, a third are boys and girls under 15 years of age, as explained this Thursday by the Minister of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration, José Luis Escrivá, at a press conference in which has taken stock of the citizens served in Operation Antígona, deployed at the Torrejón air base after the capture of Kabul.
Overnight, the Torrejón air base became a large refugee transit camp. In nine days, 2,181 Afghan refugees evacuated on 17 flights They were treated and displaced to their final destination in an average of 45 hours, a period of less than the maximum of 72 hours stipulated by the regulations. 1,723 citizens are part of the Spanish contingent, of which 1,672 have already been cared for in the state reception system, where they will follow the usual procedure established for asylum seekers, which includes Spanish training, schooling, legal and psychological assistance, as well as the preparation for autonomy.
According to Escrivá, most of the people received have come as a family. Of the total number of Afghan asylum seekers who will remain on Spanish soil, 9% came alone, compared to 14% for the European contingent and 54% for the North American. Each family has an average of between 2 and 3 children. The Afghan refugees hosted by Spain are, on average, very young.
“71% of the men and 75% of the women taken in are under 30 years old,” the minister detailed. All the minors arrived in the Spanish contingent, he points out, were accompanied by a family reference, so none of them have required to be tutored by the Administration. Of the total number of Afghans who passed through the Torrejón base -both to come to Spain and to continue their trip to other countries-, 47% are women and 53% are men, with an average of 22 and 23 years, respectively. 975 were children and adolescents.
The minister has highlighted the proportion of minors taken in by Spain, a third of all asylum seekers, as a notable factor in the process of inclusion of newly arrived Afghans, who must achieve economic independence within a period of between 18 and 24 months. “It is important [que haya muchos niños], because the educational element is essential. They are going to be trained together with Spanish children, so the capacity for inclusion is greater “, he stated. In the case of adults, Escrivá has recognized that there are” Objectively in “greater difficulties”, especially in those of retirement age , of which the data has not been detailed.
Strengthening the reception system
According to the data disaggregated by Migration, the arrival of Afghan refugees in the state reception system has not yet collapsed the state reception system, which still maintains a cushion of available places. However, Escrivá has warned that it is necessary to strengthen the international protection network, in which his department has worked since the beginning of the legislature, with the aim of developing a profound reform, which includes greater management of the Administration against to the current model, executed mainly by NGOs. To finance it, the Ministry will receive 174 million euros through the Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan between 2021-2024.
At this time, the network has 1,500 places. However, this figure does not mean that there is enough space to house the same number of people, since they are divided into centers with different characteristics and reception stages. In addition, the system will have to receive those who continue to request asylum in Spain – most of them of Latin American origin who arrive by plane – and who do not have sufficient resources to support themselves. As of July 31, the Ministry of the Interior has registered 31,392 requests for protection in 2021.
“This emergency has reminded us of the importance of having an international protection reception system with a great response capacity, something that Spain has, but which it can reinforce,” remarked the minister, who also highlighted “the response capacity of our reception system of international protection in the face of this emergency ”. The network, he details, has hosted 1,700 people in ten days, “when the usual was the entrance of 1,300 per month on average.”
The results presented, in which the speed of referral and reception stands out, collide with the difficulties expressed in migratory crises such as the one that arose in the Canary Islands at the end of 2020 and the beginning of 2021. Then, thousands of newcomers had to spend up to 10 days housed in temporary camps with precarious conditions, such as the one set up in Arguineguín, until they got a place in the humanitarian care system, given the refusal of the Interior to allow the transfer of migrants to other parts of Spain, where there were free places.
According to Minister Escrivá, in the Canary Islands there were a series of factors that complicated a rapid reaction, such as the one triggered by the arrival of Afghan refugees: “It is a phenomenon of irregular immigration that has to be treated differently.” there was a state host network and the one that existed had been dismantled. It had to be created in record time, “added the minister, referring to the macro-camps for migrants set up on the islands, which currently host around 800 people, according to his data.