Sunday, February 25

The arrival of Ukrainians in private buses overwhelms the Madrid refugee center

The refugee reception center in Pozuelo de Alarcón (Madrid) is close to full capacity and has not been able to accommodate two hundred people who have arrived from the Polish border this Friday. “It has the capacity to accommodate some 400 people and at times it has reached its maximum capacity,” confirms ‘El Periódico de España’, a newspaper belonging to the same editorial group as this medium, the Ministry of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration .

This morning 197 people have come in four buses mobilized thanks to a collection of individuals. “When they arrived, at about nine o’clock [de este viernes 18 de marzo]They told us that they could not register them because they were collapsed and they did not know of our arrival, “says Alicia Pérez, one of the organizers of the trip. They had left on Tuesday at noon. Children came, some sick and vomiting; women and elderly ( one very confused as a result of Alzheimer’s). “Also some men, because parents with more than three children are allowed to leave the country. For example, a father has come with four children, one of them a one-week-old baby,” Alicia Martínez explains by phone to this newspaper.

They have been temporarily referred to the Pozuelo Music Auditorium to rest and eat. Then they have left for other reception centers in Guadalajara, Ávila and Gijón. “They did not notify in time,” they say from Migrations, who remember that those who are collaborating with the arrival of refugees have a coordination telephone number (910474444).

The journey of these hundreds of people began with the initiative of Diego Núñez and David Martínez (in the photo) and other friends. “At first we contacted the Madrina Foundation, which had contacts on the Polish border with Ukraine. The idea was to bring five people. We made a collection for WhatsApp. Diego, David and two other friends went to Poland with two nurses and two translators,” says Pérez, Diego’s wife. Once there, things changed very quickly. The Russian bombing of Ukraine intensified, and there were hundreds of people those who help decided to mobilize buses.

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Center open a week ago

The refugee hub of Pozuelo it opened last Friday, March 11, three weeks after the beginning of the invasion of Ukraine by order of Vladimir Putin. It is an old Social Security center that had a small residence and has been adapted.

In Spain there are two other official centers open for this crisis: in Alicante, in the City of Light (provided by the Valencian Community) and with the support of the Red Cross; and in Barcelona, in the municipal pavilion of the Fira (provided by the Barcelona City Council), where the Red Cross will also support. There will be a fourth center, in Malagain this case, with the support of CEAR.

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Migrations assures this newspaper that has already incorporated 2,300 people into the reception system, who have received residence and work permits. In total, there are more than three million Ukrainian refugees outside the country. In Poland alone there are two million. In many cases, it is civil society that is managing to help this exodus, the largest on European soil since the Second World War.

The NGOs ask individuals who, better, contribute with contributions in money. “The message we have to send is: listen, don’t go at a private level and, if you do, coordinate with the associations,” he asks in ‘El Periódico de España’ Silverio Agea, General Director of the Spanish Association of Foundations (AEF), which includes organizations that are on the ground, such as UNICEF, Cáritas or Save The Children, among others. “As you go to the border for people who are fleeing without a reception certificate in Spain, they can even accuse you of trafficking. It is time to think of two words: solidarity with security,” she concludes.

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