Spain should treat refugees from everywhere with same 'political will': Human rights group

Spanish system is 'kinder' depending on nationality of refugees, says Maria Gonzalez Rolan from Caminando Fronteras.

Spain should treat refugees from everywhere with same 'political will': Human rights group

Welcoming Spain's decision to give monthly aid to Ukrainian refugees in the country, the person in charge of Right to Life, a division of the international human rights organization Caminando Fronteras (Walking Borders), urged Spain to treat refugees with the same "political will" no matter what their origin is.

Caminando Fronteras has a presence in Spain and various territories of the Euro-African Western Border.

"We as a group are for the defense of rights because we celebrate any measure that represents an advance in rights for refugees who arrive in the Spanish state," Maria Gonzalez Rolan told Anadolu Agency in an exclusive interview.

"But of course, this also shows that when there is political will, human rights are guaranteed to a greater extent and the reception system is kinder depending on the place of origin of the people who take refuge in the Spanish state," Gonzalez added.

The Spanish government on Monday approved a royal decree that provides €400 ($410) per month in aid to Ukrainians who have obtained temporary protection in Spain and do not have sufficient financial means. They are estimated at more than 130,000.

An additional €100 ($102) will be offered for every dependent minor.

Recalling the "extreme violence" at the border between Morocco and the Spanish enclave of Melilla on June 24, she said the Spanish could extend its welcoming political will toward Ukrainians to Sudanese refugees.

"What the Spanish state could do -- since there has been a political will to welcome the Ukrainian communities, the Ukrainian refugees already -- is to repeat the same political will in other cases, and particularly in (the case of) migrants and refugees who come from West Africa and also from other countries like Yemen, Syria, Palestine," she said.

Noting that 40 people died on June 24 and the following days due to injuries at the border after around 2,000 migrants, the majority coming from Sudan, tried to cross the border, she said: "Let's not forget that Sudanese people are fleeing a war conflict, but equally, whatever the cause, the people have the right to movement and that right has to be respected."

"And in particular, when there is some cause of greater vulnerability, such as being a refugee for fleeing a war conflict, protection must be increased against these people ... not immerse them in a process of vulnerability," she continued.

Regarding the reason why Sudanese people approached the fence, she said the Sudanese communities had been suffering raids for months and Moroccan security forces warned them that they had to leave the camp they were in or the violence would be greater.

"Faced with such a desperate situation and so tired of experiencing so much violence, people decided to approach the fence," she said.

Asked what could have been done better by the Spanish side, she said: "Well, to avoid this massacre, rights must be guaranteed, particularly the right to asylum."

978 refugees died on access routes

According to the data gathered by human rights defenders of Caminando Fronteras, 978 refugees died on access routes to Spain during the first half of 2022.

Among the victims, 118 were women and 41 were girls and boys.

The majority of deaths and disappearances occurred between January and June, the data shows.

A total of 306 refugees died in January, 21 in February, 159 in March, 89 in April, 113 in May, and 290 in June.

It also shows that nearly 88% of the victims disappeared in the sea without their bodies being recovered while 18 boats disappeared with all those on board.

Citizens from 23 countries died while trying to reach the Spanish coast in the last six months, including from Algeria, Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Ivory Coast, Guinea Bissau, Guinea, Gambia, Ethiopia, Comoro Islands, Mali, Morocco, Mauritania, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Syria, Sri Lanka, Sudan, South Sudan, and Yemen.

Forty people died at the Melilla border due to police violence, while 938 refugees lost their lives at sea.