The President of the Government of Catalonia, Pere Aragonès, gave a speech today at the Global Refugee Forum organised by the United Nations Refugee Agency, UNHCR, where he underlined Catalonia’s position as a welcoming nation.
"Catalonia is a welcoming nation. A nation committed to peace, democracy and human rights" he declared in his speech during the debate titled "Partnerships for complementarity: Building up multi-level, multi-stakeholder alliances and enhanced global cooperation to accelerate Glocal Compact for Migration-Global Compact on Refugees implementation at unison".
Aragonès exemplified this by explaining that the Government of Catalonia has increased its contribution to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and that, in total, it provides 700,000 euros, "contributions equivalent to those of states such as Poland and Estonia".
The head of the Catalan government argued that to address the refugee issue, the perspective of governments like that of Catalonia must be taken into account because they are the institutions directly responsible for the taking in and caring for those people who leave their country seeking refuge.
In this regard, he emphasised the ability of institutions like the Government to engage and coordinate with all stakeholders to ensure that the hosting process is successful. According to Aragonès, one of the keys to taking in refugees is to build a community network "capable of addressing the emergency of the moment and at the same time capable of offering a medium-term perspective that, through the creation of opportunities, ensures the cohesion of society as a whole".
He also stressed the need to implement new hosting policies that place the rights of refugees at the centre. "This means guaranteeing basic rights such as education, health and social services from the outset and free of charge", and he added that this must also be done by adopting an anti-racist and gender perspective "to prevent the vulnerability of refugees from being aggravated by the structural problems that exist in our Western society".
The President of the Government claimed that governments such as that of Catalonia need "more legislative tools and instruments that reinforce decision-making capabilities and not just mere management". He claimed that offering refugees the best care means not only being prepared to respond to the emergency of the moment and to mobilise the necessary resources and services, but that "it also depends on the capacity to make decisions or co-decisions regarding the reception of refugees, and to be able to participate in decision-making on migration policies".