Spanish Government and UNHCR to carry out community sponsorship pilot project for refugees
The Spanish Secretary of State for Migration, Consuelo Rumí, and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, together with the Basque Government, have agreed to implement a pilot project on Community Sponsorship for the Reception and Integration of Refugee Persons in the first half of 2019. This makes Spain a pioneering country in community sponsorship of refugees, together with Canada, the UK, Ireland, Argentina, and New Zealand. These countries all joined a 16 July 2018 declaration to support such community-based programmes.
The Community Sponsorship Programme allows individuals, groups, and organisations to be involved directly in the reception and integration of refugees through the provision of legal, financial, and administrative support. Thus, in the community sponsorship model, public administrations and private actors jointly assume responsibility for refugee integration, offering citizens the opportunity to participate in the integration process. The programme will complement the national reception system while reinforcing the role of civil society and local communities.
The Community Sponsorship Programme represents an important step in integration efforts in Spain. The national government’s last Strategic Plan on Citizenship and Integration concluded in 2014. Since then, both migrant flows and the main actors in integration have changed dramatically.
Today, Spain is the primary entry point for migrants arriving by sea to Europe, and it is the fifth largest receiving country of refugees in Europe (behind Germany, Italy, France, and Greece). Without a clear, coordinated agenda from the national level, autonomous regions and local entities have become the primary actors in integration.
Recent statements of the national government reflect the new situation. At the summit for the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez announced a forthcoming Citizenship and Integration Plan, for which the national government is expected to work with autonomous communities and municipalities across Spain on integration.