Friday, August 12

The Red Cross, from the Torrejón camp: “They don’t know where they are, what will happen to them”

The camp set up in Torrejón is bustling with people this Sunday, including the military, volunteers, aid workers and the more than 370 people who have arrived from Kabul since Thursday, when the first plane from the capital of Afghanistan landed, after stopping in Dubai. Since then, six planes have landed in Madrid. In the device, with capacity for 800 people, the Red Cross plays a decisive role, which is in charge of the reception and the first accompaniment psychosocial of the people who arrive.

A refugee camp for 800 people with PCR and visas: Torrejón already welcomes the first evacuees from Afghanistan

Know more

“The first thing is to reassure them, because they have many doubts. They get scared because you ask the name of their children, they want to know what will happen to them, where they are. They left Kabul just a few hours ago,” explains Raquel Gibaja, technician of the Red Cross refugee program. So far, since the Taliban took over the Asian country last Sunday, three planes from the Spanish Armed Forces and another three from the European External Action Service have landed in Madrid, adding to a seventh that is scheduled to arrive in Spain. this sunday night

At first, the people who arrive are assisted by the Red Cross operation. It involves a deployment of about 300 people, including volunteers, medical personnel and technicians. “It is a fairly extensive device. You have to make a review of who each person who arrives is. They are welcomed, they are explained who we are, where they are …”, says Gibaja. Some families need special attention upon arrival. As an example, he cites the case of a mother with two children who were diabetic and who had to be attended to this Saturday upon landing.

Many of the first thing they do is ask you for a charger to be able to communicate with their families and tell them that they are fine.

Rachel Gibaja
– Technician of the Red Cross refugee program

Once this process is completed, they undergo a PCR test and then go on to an interview with the Police to request asylum if they want to. “So far we have not had any positives,” Gibaja explains. The main challenge in this situation is to provide care for people who arrive extremely misplaced: “We have been in many reception centers for Syrian refugees and they arrived in more digested situations,” he compares. “Many of the first thing they do is ask you for a charger to be able to communicate with their families and tell them that they are fine,” he adds.

Beyond the technical and sanitary issues, an important task, says Gibaja, is to protect them psychologically. “In the end they are people who have had to flee in a very abrupt way, it has been suddenly. They have had to run away, leave their things. So the first phase is a landing, but a mental landing,” he says. “There were people, entire families, who had not taken a shower for several days, after sleeping for several days at the airport, because they had to leave suddenly, leave everything,” he details, before stressing that the first thing is to explain to them that they can eat and that they can rest.

In this sense, he explains that many families arrive with children who barely understand what is happening. For this they have set up a toy library, “so they can entertain themselves for a while.” Although “children have a very strong adaptability”, “they arrive very tired, they do not understand anything at all, not even their mothers or fathers, so it is good that they have at least a while to entertain themselves and forget”, he says.

Afghans who land spend a maximum of 72 hours in the camp installed at the air base and then be transferred to other centers or apartments provided by the State, or distributed to other countries in Europe, as part of the agreement reached between the members of the EU. Those who stay within Spain enter an asylum program in which the Red Cross also participates, through which refugees spend between 18 and 24 months in a temporary reception period, in which they are given legal and psychological support and they are introduced to the language.

Before referring them, there is psychological and social support for Afghans who need it. “An individualized job is done. Now we talk about Afghans and Afghans in general, but each one has a very different context, we try to differentiate what each one needs and before that provide them with the most basic needs,” explains Gibaja.

On the difficulty of deploying a device in such a short time, the Red Cross spokesperson downplays: “We are looking forward to going. We are when we are needed. It has been difficult to coordinate it, because there were people on vacation and other eventualities, but we have been prepared. to get it started, “he says. Gibaja also remembers: “It is important that people try to put themselves on the feet of these people. Tomorrow I get up, I have to run out of my country and get to another unknown place. It is very difficult to assimilate,” he closes.