Grandi concludes his visit to Spain praising the longstanding partnership between Spain and UNHCR
MADRID (Spain), 13 February 2021. Speaking at the end of a two-day visit, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, praised the solidarity shown by the Spanish Government and civil society towards refugees.
During his visit to Spain, Grandi held meetings in Madrid with Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and other key ministers. He was also granted audience by his majesty HM King Felipe VI.
The High Commissioner commended the longstanding partnership between Spain and UNHCR; he also acknowledged the challenges represented by the COVID-19 pandemic but also by the country’s location at Europe’s borders.
“It is essential to have robust, fair and efficient asylum systems that allow for the rapid identification and referral to the asylum procedure of people in need of international protection,” Grandi said, noting the steps taken to strengthen refugee protection in recent years. The importance of constructive negotiations among the member states of the European Union on the EU Pact on Migration and Asylum were highlighted in discussions with the High Commissioner who reiterated UNHCR’s readiness to provide technical advice.
Together with the Minister of Inclusion, José Luis Escrivá, Grandi signed an agreement to donate materials to the authorities and other relevant stakeholders to be distributed to migrants and refugees arriving by sea in the Canary Islands. These include 300,000 face masks and 20,000 blankets, which are currently in the World Food Programme’s warehouse in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.
The High Commissioner also thanked the Government for its commitment to international cooperation and multilateralism in tackling the root causes of forced displacement. He also highlighted the critical role that Spain plays within the European Union as a bridge for collaboration with Latin America. The region faces enormous challenges aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic and urgent funding is needed to provide protection and assistance to millions of displaced people, mainly from Venezuela, the north of Central America and Nicaragua. In this regard, Grandi appreciated the support offered by Spain through its Presidency of the Platform for Support to the Regional Integrated Framework for Protection and Solutions (MIRPS) on forced displacement in Central America and Mexico.
During Grandi’s visit to Colombia, earlier this week, President Duque announced that temporary protection status would be granted to Venezuelans in the country for 10 years. Colombia is currently host to 1.8 Million Venezuelans. The High Commissioner also made a stop in Costa Rica, a country which has experienced an upward trend in asylum seekers mostly from Nicaragua.
While in Latin America, the High Commissioner also had the opportunity to appreciate the mobilization and support for refugees by donors to the Spanish National Association, Espana con ACNUR”.
“I am impressed by the outstanding solidarity demonstrated by Spanish civil society and I am deeply grateful for their support towards refugees, especially at a time when Spain and the world are facing unprecedented challenges,” said Grandi.
The High Commissioner concluded his visit by meeting with a group of UNHCR refugee volunteers who shared with him their experiences in identifying protection needs, helping others and building communication bridges between the organization and the refugee community. They also described the challenges in supporting UNHCR during the pandemic confinement.
“I was deeply moved by the extraordinary commitment of this group of young refugee volunteers – their enthusiasm to help others and their desire to contribute to the society that hosts them is inspiring,” concluded the High Commissioner.