Access to NGOs and UNHCR


Country Report: Access to NGOs and UNHCR Last updated: 22/05/23


In general, asylum seekers at the borders are the ones that face most difficulties in accessing not only information, but the asylum process itself. Access of NGOs to border facilities is not foreseen by law. According to the OAR, NGOs are usually provided access to border facilities in order to assist vulnerable applicants, although there is no further information available on this. The NGOs CEAR[1] and the Red Cross[2] have presence at the airports of Madrid and Barcelona,[3] and UNHCR conducts monitoring activities to several border facilities. UNHCR has established its presence in Andalucía, in order to monitor arrivals by boat, and at the border points in Ceuta and Melilla. For more information, refer to section on Border Procedure.

Migrants arriving in ports or Spanish sea shores are assisted by the police and the ERIE teams of the Spanish Red Cross, which carries out the first medical screening. As mentioned, UNHCR and CEAR are present in different parts of Andalucía in order to support the authorities in detecting persons with vulnerabilities and special needs, as well as in informing persons about the right to international protection. Save the Children also has team of professionals that monitor sea arrivals. In November 2020, UNHCR and OIM announced plans to open an office in the Canary Island.[4] As already mentioned, both organisations started to work in the archipelago at the beginning of 2021. The IOM’s operations in the archipelago was finalised in June 2022.

The second category with most difficult access to information and NGO counselling are third-country nationals willing to apply for asylum from detention within CIE. For more information, please see the section on Detention.

Overall, it is important to note the important role of UNHCR during the asylum procedure. As already mentioned, the OAR must inform UNHCR of all the asylum applications lodged and the latter participates in the asylum procedure by being part of the CIAR, where it has the right to intervene but not to vote.

[1] CEAR, see:

[2] Cruz Roja Española, see:

[3] Information provided by the OAR, 14 September 2020; Accem, 29 September 2020.

[4] Canarias 7, ‘Gran Canaria contará con una oficina de ayuda al refugiado’, 19 November 2020, available in Spanish at:; La Vanguardia, ‘ACNUR y la OIM ayudarán a gestionar la crisis migratoria de Canarias’, 16 November 2020, available in Spanish at:

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the main changes since the previous report update
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection
  • ANNEX I – Transposition of the CEAS in national legislation