Friday, March 31

The ravelin will welcome Ukrainian refugees who go to Portugal

Two symbols of military defense are today the spaces chosen to save those fleeing the Ukraine bombed by Russia from the war. The two Extremaduran hostels that will temporarily welcome citizens or residents of Ukraine are in Badajoz and Olivenza and share a history: they were built in the 18th century to strengthen their military defenses, at a time when the two cities were at odds. Olivenza was a stronghold for Portugal and Badajoz was for the kingdom of Spain. Together, the two municipal shelters add up to 122 places that can be expanded if the exodus of refugees exceeds their capacity.

The one in Badajoz is in the San Roque ravelin, although it is strictly the Trinidad ravelin because it was built after the War of the Spanish Succession precisely to reinforce the defense of the gateway to the walled Badajoz that has the same name.

This triangle-shaped military structure at the entrance to the San Roque neighborhood will serve as a reception point for Ukrainian refugees in transit to Portugal, either because they are going to settle in the neighboring country or because Lisbon airport is their point of departure. to other countries.

This was confirmed yesterday by the Minister of Health, José María Vergeles: «People in transit are those who leave Ukraine and who want to go to other countries and who use the Spanish train or other means of transport as part of the journey to the airport of Lisbon, from there to set course for other destinations. Therefore, the refugees who end up at the San Roque shelter will not stay in Extremadura, but will only spend a few hours, the waiting time to connect with the Portuguese transport.

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These are the shelters in Badajoz and Olivenza that will welcome refugees from Ukraine

In this interval that they spend in the ravelin, it will be the Red Cross volunteers who attend to the refugees, so that they can eat, wash or rest.

Closed since 2017 and enabled during the pandemic until last July so that local police or firefighters could, in case of infection, quarantine the virus outside their home, the shelter was inspected on Sunday by the Red Cross, the City Council’s Social Services of Badajoz, Civil Protection and the Local Police. Antonio Cavacasillas, head of social and youth policies, confirmed yesterday that the facilities are in good condition and ready to receive refugees. “Yesterday the central courtyard was cleared and it needs cleaning for the time it has been closed, which will be handled by the Red Cross, which is the one who will organize and manage the facilities.”

The center, which opened at the end of 2013 as a hostel, has 62 prepared beds distributed in bunk beds and divided into eleven rooms, each dedicated to a monument in the city. The rooms have heating, air conditioning and closets. “We have seen that we have the possibility of expanding the number of beds in the event that large families arrive so that they can be grouped in the same room,” confirmed Cavacasillas.

Although the forecast is that their stay will be brief, the San Roque ravelin (which, after losing its military function, was a fire station and warehouse for the municipal services of Roads and Works and Cleaning before being a hostel) is equipped with six toilets (two for women, two for men and another two adapted), kitchen, laundry, dining room, TV and games room, library and a central outdoor area of ​​640 square meters. The association center inside the ravelin has also been made available to the Red Cross to serve as a warehouse or meeting place.

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“Nobody knows the number of people who are going to come, because they will come in waves. What they have told us is that it is not going to be something short-term, but that the situation is going to last over time. The only thing we want from the City Council is to live up to the solidarity of the people of Badajoz”, says the Councilor for Social Services and Youth.

An old infantry barracks

The municipal shelter of Olivenza, located in the center next to the church of Santa María, will serve to give temporary shelter to refugees fleeing Ukraine until their destination is decided. In this case, in principle they are people who will stay in Extremadura.

These facilities have also been supervised by the president of the Red Cross, confirmed yesterday the mayor of Olivenza, Manuel J. González, an organization that, as in the case of Badajoz, will be in charge of assisting the refugees. “The shelter is in perfect condition, it has been full at the Feria del Toro and has now emptied, and it is ready for the imminent arrival of refugees,” he adds.

Its facilities occupy the old Infantería del Pozo barracks, named after the well that was on the side of the parade ground, the current outdoor area around which the hostel is organized, which has 60 beds for adults, with the option –specifies the mayor– «to enable about 20 more places if necessary».

Built in the second half of the 18th century for the permanent military garrison stationed in Olivenza, which was then the first line of defense in Alentejo, the building was later a light transformation center and a fire station. In 2004 it was rehabilitated by the City Council and inaugurated three years later. It has a kitchen, dining room, living room and toilets.

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