On Wednesday, the Government of Catalonia, the Barcelona City Council, local governments, the four provincial councils and refugee aid organisations reaffirmed their commitment to helping with Europe’s growing refugee crisis in the second Refugee Resettlement Committee meeting held in Barcelona. The Committee announced their commitment in a joint declaration and pledged to give all the necessary support from the perspective of local authorities to carry out the resettlement in the best possible way. In this last meeting, stakeholders from the different governmental administrations expressed the clear intention to coordinate actions in order to facilitate the reception of refugees in Catalonia.
Present at the last meeting of the working committee there were various representatives from the Catalan Government, Barcelona’s City Council departments, the two main local associations (ACM and FMC), provincial representatives, as well as members of organizations involved in asylum and cooperation activities. To reinforce the resettlement process, the Government of Catalonia expressed its commitment to introduce new arrivals rapidly into the healthcare, education, language and housing systems. With regard to the latter, the Government undertook the task of drawing up a list of facilities, housing and shelters throughout the territory that could accommodate refugees as they arrive.
Additionally, in the previous it was announced that the government-owned Casa Bloc in Barcelona will be opened to host refugees in a few weeks, providing space for approximately 90 refugees. Those entitled to this service will receive housing for an initial period of six months, with the possibility of an additional three-month extension. During that time, these refugees will receive counselling and legal support, and will participate in activities to foster social inclusion. Barcelona is contributing to the alleviation of the crisis by implementing the "Barcelona, City of Refugees" campaign to position itself as a leading municipality in coordinating its resources to welcome refugees.
The Minister of Employment, Social Affairs and Family, Dolors Bassa, while further expressing Catalonia’s willingness to work with the European Union, has requested access to European funds to further manage the reception of refugees. Earlier this month, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Institutional Relations, and Transparency Raül Romeva met with the mayor of Lampedusa e Linosa, Giuseppina Nicolini, to discuss the successes of this small Italian island community in responding to the crisis. "We are ready to receive refugees", he asserted, lamenting that the Government "is a prisoner of a decision that is up to the State to make". United Nations Association in Spain awarded Nicolini the 36th Peace Prize to recognize her accomplishments in dealing with the migration crisis that has affected the Italian island for over fifteen years.
In working to find solutions to the refugee crisis and implement its own autonomous reception policies, President Puigdemont recently addressed a letter to the European Union commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, Dimitris Avramopoulos, expressing Catalonia’s willingness to host 4,500 refugees and its initiatives to integrate these refugees into Catalan society. Through this letter, President Puigdemont expressed the bond that Catalan communities have with these refugees, underscoring the resonance of this current crisis in Catalonia: “Generations of people in Catalonia have experiences of war in their families". "We simply cannot keep looking at this tragedy without acting", he added.