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  • The role of Spain The Government will activate a "reserve of strategic assets" to ensure Spain's supplies in the face of the war in Ukraine

More than two million people have fled Ukraine since Vladimir Putin's troops invaded the country two weeks ago.

Most of them have found refuge in neighboring countries such as

Poland

,

Hungary

or

Slovakia

, but the rest of Europe is already preparing for the massive reception of the more than four million people that the United Nations

estimates that they leave the country because of the conflict.

The war has broken out now, but the confrontation between the two countries has been latent for eight years, since Russia annexed the

Crimean

peninsula in 2014 .

Since then, 86,000 Ukrainians have requested international protection from the different countries of the

European Union

, including

Spain

, which, with

16,406 requests

, becomes the third country to receive the largest number of asylum applications from people of Ukrainian nationality, only behind Italy and Germany.

However, of all of them only

1,420 have been formalized, that is, 8.6%

.

"The main reason why so many are denied is because of the possibility of relocation within the country itself, a concept that is applied in international protection," explains

Francisco José Rojo

, head of the legal service at

Accem

, the Spanish NGO specializing in refugee care.

"Until now the conflict was taking place in the southern part of Ukraine, in Crimea and

Donbas .

so it was considered that these people could save their lives and their rights in other regions of the country". And the fact is that refugee status is only granted to anyone who is unable to find protection in their country of origin or residence for fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion or belonging to a certain social group or political opinion, as specified by the

Ministry of the Interior

itself .

The Donbas conflict triggered requests for protection in our country to 946 -in 2013 there were barely 14 that reached the asylum offices- and since then the figure

has

increased by 41%

, reaching 1,335 last year.

However, despite the fact that favorable resolutions have also increased, more than 90% of them have been rejected or have not received a response.

"This increase in applications -2019 broke the record for files- has caused a collapse in the Administration with more than 8,000 applications pending resolution as of January 1, 2022," says Rojo, and ensures that priority was given to other nationalities that like the

Syria

, seemed to have "more well-founded" reasons.

Despite this, during 2015 and 2016 the Ukrainians were the second most demanding country for asylum in our country, only behind Syria.

Spain, like the rest of Europe, is preparing to adopt new measures to deal with the new wave of refugees that we are facing after the Russian invasion.

In this sense, the Spanish Government has launched the European Directive on

Temporary Protection

which will simplify the procedures for granting residence and work permits to all Ukrainians who arrive in our country fleeing the war, as well as to all those who already lived in Spanish territory.

"Precisely what is intended with this system is to streamline procedures and that offices are not overloaded with files. Processing an asylum application is slow, it can take 1 to 2 years and this would be unfeasible in the face of a massive influx of people," indicate from Accem.

This directive that the European Commission activated on March 4 was approved in 2001, but has never been used, not even with the previous refugee crisis of 2015.

In addition, of those who arrive now, the Minister of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration, José Luis Escrivá,

He assured that with this measure he also intends to regularize the situation of those Ukrainians who already reside in our country.

In Spain there is a large community of Ukrainian citizens who are concentrated above all in

Catalonia, the Valencian Community

and Madrid, the same autonomous communities that receive the largest number of asylum applications.

In total, according to the latest data from the

INE

, corresponding to January 2021, there are a total of

112,034 Ukrainians

in our country and according to calculations by the Ministry of the Interior itself, there may be close to 10,000 people who are currently in an irregular situation.

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