World Refugee Day: Help, Support and Commitment to Human Rights

Esquerra Republicana means to build a welcoming, sheltering Republic

As every 20th June, today is World Refugee Day. The United Nations established this day in 2001 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees held in Geneva in 1951. Among other things, the Convention determines who is a refugee and who is not. It lays out their fundamental rights and concludes that a refugee cannot be forced to return to the country he or she fled.

Wars have grievously exacerbated migration crises. The latest annual report on refugees in Europe shows that 2020 recorded the greatest number of displaced persons in the world: 80 million people. In Catalonia for example, the number of asylum seekers has risen from around thirty per million inhabitants in 2010, to over 1,200 in 2020. So in 10 years, the number of asylum applications in Catalonia has multiplied by 43.

Still, those figures do not yet reflect the movement triggered by the war in Ukraine, which according to some indicators, has led to the arrival of over 20,000 people. Despite this recent phenomenon which weighs heavily on us, we must not forget that for many years, wars and conflicts around the world, along with precarious living conditions in other countries, have led to a constant flight of people who are seek a better place to live. So much so that in 2020, the three countries from which most people fled were Syria with 5.6 million displaced; Venezuela with 3.7 million; and Afghanistan with 2.7.

In the face of this situation, Esquerra Republicana stands firm in its commitment to put people at the heart and to work for a welcoming and sheltering Catalan Republic, where everyone’s human rights are guaranteed.

Catalonia’s department of Equality and Feminism, headed by minister Tània Verge, has set a number of measures in place to foster reception and integration of refugees arriving in our country. One such initiative is the Mentoring Programme, in which groups of three or more volunteers provide support and accompaniment for a refugee to help them connect with the host society. Since 2017, the year it was established, through to 2021, over 900 persons have taken part. At the same time, the Department supports projects managed by specialist organizations with over 220,000 euros.

Dealing with the massive influx of Ukrainian refugees fleeing the war is another challenge and a priority for the Department. Ms Verge has also had existing measures reinforced, including the Displaced Care Support Program and the First Aid Service. Likewise, information and care services for women have been strengthened in those municipalities where the impact of arrivals of war refugees has been greatest. And the department has also led new projects, such as employment of refugees in certain small towns and villages in Catalonia.