The “Barcelona, Refuge City” plan drives actions at source and en route, in coordination and collaboration with other municipalities, as well as international bodies and NGOs working on the ground.
Refuge city network
Coordination between towns and cities is essential. Cities are the places that are taking in - or will in future have to take - the refugees and where they will have to be integrated and start a safe life.
Barcelona is behind a European network of refuge cities that a lot of municipalities around the Spanish State have signed up to. The network's main goals are to promote cooperation and the exchange of information and good practices, with a view to offering mutual support in emergency situations as well as sharing the various intervention strategies.
The network also promotes political initiatives to press the responsible authorities to fulfil their international and European commitments, as well as come up with policies that tackle the root of the problem and go beyond just taking in refugees.
In that regard, the City Council is calling and working for the establishment of an urgently required legal corridor so refugees can reach the European Union safely and more deaths can be avoided.
Cooperation with other cities takes place on a city-to-city basis as well as through various international networks that the City Council belongs to, such as Eurocities, MedCities, the World Association of the Major Metropolises (Metropolis) and the Global Network of Cities, Local and Regional Governments (UCLG).
Along with other cities such as Amsterdam, Athens, Berlin and Helsinki, Barcelona is part of a work group on immigration and refugee set up with the European Commission to strengthen the voice of cities in Brussels and help them become eligible for emergency funds, just as states and entities are.
The “City to City” programme
The “Barcelona, Refuge City” plan has launched a collaborative “City to City” programme that offers assistance and expertise on specific projects to municipalities with the most refugees in transit, the ones thar are carrying the heaviest burden as regards hosting people fleeing their own country in search of safety and security.
In theory this direct cooperation programme is to help them and confront the paralysis of the various states by opening up a cooperation channel between cities that can offer support to both the refugee and local populations.
This initiative has been launched with the cities of Athens and Lesbos, in Greece, and with Lampedusa in Italy.
The direct cooperation agreements with Lesbos and Lampedusa offer technical, logistical, social and environmental support to these two little Mediterranean islands. The agreement with Athens envisages relocating a hundred refugees currently in the Greek capital to Barcelona, a pilot plan for which authorisation has been requested from the central government, which is responsible for asylum and reception matters.
Intervention at source and en route
Barcelona is also responding to the crisis by increasing the financial aid going to organisations working on the ground, attending to people in countries bordering on Syria and en route to the European Union.
It is doing that directly, through subsidies, and in association with other municipalities through the Catalan Development Cooperation Fund (FCCD) which, faced with the gravity of the refugee exodus, launched a support campaign for people in transit and the cities that host them in September 2015.
This campaign is in addition to the aid campaign for victims of the conflict in Syria that the FCCD started in 2013. Contributions to that campaign top 1.1 million euros, 100,000 of those from Barcelona, one of the main contributors.
The contribution to the FCCD's common chest amounts to 290,000 euros, with which the City Council subsidised four refugee care projects in 2015.
All this is part of the global justice and international cooperation share of the budget which achieved, for the first time, the target of allocating 0.7% to cooperation, as envisaged in the 2013-2016 Master Plan for Development Cooperation, Solidarity and Peace.
The figure for 2013 was 0.56% of the budget and 0.57% in 2014. This expenditure totalled 1.75 million euros in 2015.
Projects subsidised by the City Council
|UNHCR||Urgent assistance for people escaping from Syria through Iraqi Kurdistan.* See more|
|Red Cross||Social and medical care for the Syrian refugee population in Beirut, Lebanon and the host communities.* See more|
|Movement for Peace, Disarmament and Peace||Greater protection for the Syrian refugee population in the Lebanese region of Baalbek. See more|
|Clowns without Borders||Performing arts and clowning to provide emotional support for children affected by the war and the refugee situation on the transit route through the Balkans.* See more|
* These projects have also been funded by the FCCD support campaign.
Initiatives funded via the FCCD in association with other Catalan towns and cities
Countries bordering on Syria
|Action against Hunger||Contribution towards establishing adequate living conditions and access to basic necessities in the most vulnerable Syrian towns. See more|
|World Vision International Foundation||Handing over cash aid to vulnerable Syrian families to cover their basic needs.|
European countries en route to the EU
|Proactiva Open Arms||Sea rescue work on the beaches of the island of Lesbos. See more|
|Save the Chidren||Support for central and local authorities and civil society, for the protection of unaccompanied children and minors. See more|
|Doctors of the World||Primary health care and psychosocial support for refugees and migrants. See more|