Types of accommodation


Country Report: Types of accommodation Last updated: 25/03/21


As mentioned in Criteria and Restrictions to Access Reception Conditions, the Spanish reception system is designed in three phases. Types of accommodation vary in the EYD phase and the “first phase”, while during the “second phase” persons are no longer accommodated in the reception system,

Shortcomings in the reception system have been registered during 2019, leading the Spanish Ombudsman to characterise the system as “meagre”.[1]  In June 2019, the employees of the Samur Social of Madrid (the Social Service for the Municipal Assistance to Social Emergencies) protested against the fact that asylum seekers are left destitute and homeless. They asked the competent institutions to assume their responsibilities and to join efforts in providing a solution to this situation.[2] In addition, in November 2019, they organised a strike to denounce the fact that many asylum seekers, including children, did not have access to accommodation for months and were thus obliged to sleep on the street in front of the Samur Social.[3] During this period, newspapers reported and demonstrated the situation of many homeless asylum seekers in Madrid, including children and persons with disabilities.[4]

Moreover, around 30 asylum seekers filed, in cooperation with the church San Carlos Borromeo, two complaints to the Municipality of Madrid and the Ministry of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration, urging them to comply with their obligations to accommodate asylum seekers.[5] Due to the collapse of the emergency services of Madrid, the Municipality urged the Government to take its responsibilities to solve the problem.[6]

In 2019, the Spanish Ombudsman had already urged the competent authorities to provide asylum seekers who are homeless with reception solutions. It further recommended the creation of proper reception facilities and called for more flexibility in the current reception system.[7] In order to avoid major dysfunctions in the reception system, the acting Government introduced in 2019 an amendment that foresees the possibility to refer asylum seekers to reception facilities in the framework of the humanitarian assistance programmes.[8]

As a response to the issue of overcrowding, the new appointed Ministry of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration started to negotiate in early 2020 with a private company (Sociedad de Gestión de Activos procedentes de la Reestructuración Bancaria – Sareb) the possibility of using empty apartments for the reception of asylum seekers and undocumented migrants.[9]

Nevertheless, the above described issues of homelessness and overcrowding issues persisted during 2020. At the beginning of the year, many asylum seekers were forced to sleep on the streets in cold temperatures in Madrid, as both the asylum reception system and the reception places that the Municipality of Madrid activates every winter for homeless persons under the “Campaign of Cold” (Campaña de Frío) are overcrowded.[10] In November 2020, it was further reported that a group of 50 asylum seekers, including 13 children, had to sleep in front of the Samur Social (the Social Service for the Municipal Assistance to Social Emergencies) while waiting a reception solution due to the lack of places within the reception system.[11] Reports of migrants and asylum seekers left with no reception solution and on the streets have been further registered throughout the year on the Canary Islands.[12] The situation of homelessness faced by unaccompanied migrant children when aging-out has been described in Legal representation of unaccompanied children.

Following the COVID-19 outbreak in Spain and the declaration of the State of Alarm, the DGIAH adopted a communication with a set of instructions on the management of the reception asylum system.[13] Many NGOs urged for guarantees to protect vulnerable persons, especially migrants, refugees, domestic workers, victims of domestic violence, sex workers, migrants living in informal settlements (i.e. in Huelva), and expressed concerns about reception and detention centres that are usually overcrowded (i.e. CETIs and CIEs).[14]

During the summer of 2020, migrants arriving by boat to Andalucía were also forced into homelessness. In particular, migrants were not transferred from the CATE (where they were initially accommodated) to other reception centres in cases where they were not in possession of a negative PCR test. NGOs have called for more coordination between the Government and the Autonomous Community of Andalucía in order to grant access to reception to these persons, as there were available places. This situation affected around 400 persons.[15]

In a report published by Save the Children in September 2020, the organisation reported many challenges that asylum seeking families faced in accessing the asylum reception system and often resulted in homelessness.[16] Homelessness also affected hundreds of seasonal workers in the city of Jaén (Andalucía) during 2020.[17]

Different organisations and anti-racist groups further denounced the use of violence by law enforcement authorities to enforce Covid-19 measures, as well as ethnic profiling to that end.[18]

Assessment and referral (EYD) phase

In 2018, the rise in asylum claims resulted in applicants having up to 4 months in some cases hosted in hotels instead of asylum accommodation. No information is available on 2020 apart from what has been mentioned under Access and forms of reception conditions.

First phase

Accommodation during the “first phase” of reception can take place in:

  • Refugee Reception Centres (Centros de acogida de refugiados, CAR) managed by DGIAH;
  • Reception facilities managed by NGOs, subcontracted by DGIAH.

The typologies of reception places vary depending on the institution or entity that manages the centre. The reception system relies on places within big reception centres and apartments, but some reception places are in urban neighbourhoods while other are located in rural areas. The different types of available accommodation also differ from the point of view of provided services and spaces.

The Ministry directly manages the Refugee Reception Centres (CAR), part of the first phase reception centres for asylum seekers. There are a total of 4 CAR on the Spanish territory:

Capacity of CAR in 2020
CAR Capacity
Alcobendas, Madrid 80
Vallecas, Madrid 96
Mislata, Valencia 120
Sevilla 120
Total 416

Source: DGIAH

There are two Migrant Temporary Stay Centres (CETI) in the autonomous cities of Ceuta and Melilla. This type of centre hosts any migrant or asylum seeker that enters the Spanish territory undocumented, either by land or by sea and arrives in the Ceuta and Melilla enclaves.

Every third country national who enters irregularly the Spanish territory through the two cities is placed in one of the two centres before being moved to the peninsular territory as an asylum seeker or an economic migrant. The capacity of the CETI is 512 places in Ceuta and 782 in Melilla, including places in tents in the latter. Overcrowding in such facilities and the poor living conditions is a persisting problem in Spain, as explained in Arrivals in the enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla and below under Conditions in CETI.[19]

Moreover, reception places for asylum seekers are available inside the reception centres and private apartments managed by NGOs, funded by the Ministry. Until 2014, only 3 NGOs managed these reception places: the Red Cross, CEAR and Accem. The Royal Decree adopted in September 2015 to extend the reception system capacity granted authorisation to 3 more organisations: Dianova, CEPAIM and La Merced. In addition, it included a previous phase of reception in hostels and hotels during a maximum of 30 days. Five more NGOs entered the reception system in 2016 and many more in 2017. Thus, as of beginning of 2020, the reception system counted 21 organisations.

The process of assigning reception places takes into consideration the availability of places and the profile of the asylum seekers, giving special attention to vulnerable persons.



[1] El País, ‘El sistema de acogida para los refugiados es raquítico’, 27 November 2019, available at: https://cutt.ly/tricRPi.

[2]El Diario, ‘Trabajadores de Samur Social de Madrid protestan contra el abandono de familias de refugiados por el colapso de los recursos’, 1 July 2019, available at: https://cutt.ly/HtTuNeE.

[3] El Diarío, ‘La plantilla del Samur Social de Madrid convoca una huelga tras meses con solicitantes de asilo durmiendo frente a su sede’, 22 November 2019, available at: https://cutt.ly/Nrivwrf.

[4]El País, ‘El colapso del servicio de emergencia social en Madrid: niños durmiendo en la calle, vecinos entregando mantas, 14 October 2019, available in Spanish at: https://cutt.ly/3tT9A2F; El Salto Diario, ‘En la calle, en silla de ruedas, con un 100% de discapacidad… y abandonado por las instituciones’, 29 September 2019, available in Spanish at: https://cutt.ly/ptT9FR0.

[5] Infolibre, ‘Una treintena de solicitantes de asilo denuncian en el Ayuntamiento de Madrid falta de recursos habitacionales’, 15 November 2019, available at: https://cutt.ly/MrivipE.       

[6] 20minutos, ‘Madrid insta a Sánchez a que atienda a los refugiados tras el colapso de los servicios de emergencia’, 3 October 2019, available at: https://cutt.ly/btT9x2w.

[7] Europapress, ‘El Defensor del Pueblo pide atender a los refugiados que piden asilo: “Si no hay instalaciones, habrá que crearlas’”, 27 November 2019, available at: https://cutt.ly/Fric0lK.

[8] Ministerio de Trabajo, Migraciones y Seguridad Social, ‘Real Decreto 450/2019, de 19 de julio, por el que se modifica el Real Decreto 441/2007, de 3 de abril, por el que se aprueban las normas reguladoras de la concesión directa de subvenciones a entidades y organizaciones que realizan actuaciones de atención humanitaria a personas inmigrantes’, 20 July 2019, available in Spanish at: https://cutt.ly/ct1ghYJ; El País, ‘El Gobierno cambia la legislación para acoger refugiados en centros de atención para inmigrantes’, 19 July 2020, available in Spanish at: https://cutt.ly/dtT2sIV; La Moncloa, ‘Referencia del Consejo de Ministros. 19 July 2020, available in Spanish at: https://cutt.ly/RtT2ciq.

[9] El Diario, ‘El Gobierno negociará con la Sareb la cesión de pisos vacíos para acoger a solicitantes de asilo sin techo’, 27 February 2020, available in Spanish at: https://cutt.ly/fteg8m1.

[10] Público, ‘Sin camas en invierno para los solicitantes de asilo: “No morí de hambre pero puedo morir de frío”’, 17 January 2020, available at: https://cutt.ly/ltYKA1V.

[11] Tele Madrid, ‘Los solicitantes de refugio siguen durmiendo en la calle en Madrid’, 14 November 2020, available in Spanish at: https://bit.ly/3idMpmD

[12]La Provincia, ‘CEAR dice que la decisión de dejar en la calle a los migrantes es “inaudita”, 17 November 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/3pKiVj5.

[13] DGIAH, ‘Instruction DGIAH 2020/03/20 approving instructions for the management of the international protection reception system and the grants that finance it, in the framework of the public health emergency caused by COVID-19’, 19 March 2020, available in Spanish at: https://cutt.ly/vtUC8eQ.

[14] Servicio Jesuita a Migrantes – SJM, ‘Urgen el compromiso y la responsabilidad para proteger a las personas migrantes con mayor vulnerabilidad en el contexto de emergencia sanitaria’, 24 March 2020, available in Spanish at: https://cutt.ly/jtUB3wS; Accem, ‘Covid-19: La necesidad de proteger’, 13 March 2020, available in Spanish at: https://cutt.ly/ftUNqNO; APDHA – Asociación Pro derechos Humanos de Andalucía, ‘APDHA Huelva reclama medidas especiales para frenar el contagio en los asentamientos chabolistas’, 25 March 2020, available in Spanish at: https://cutt.ly/etUNxve.

[15] El Diario, ‘Las ONG que acogen migrantes piden más coordinación entre el Gobierno y Andalucía tras dejar a gente en la calle por las PCR: “Nos sentimos impotentes’, 17 August 2020, available in Spanish at: https://bit.ly/35FwIiG; El País, ‘Inmigrantes llegados en patera a Andalucía duermen en la calle ante la ausencia de pruebas PCR’, 13 August 2020, available in Spanish at: https://bit.ly/38IFTkr.

[16] Save the Children, ‘La protección de la infancia migrante y refugiada en Europa. Resum ejecutivo y conclusiones sobre España’, September 2020, available in Spanish at: https://bit.ly/38IiijW.

[17] El Diario, ‘Centenares de temporeros en Jaén duermen en la calle en plena pandemia: “La Junta ha llegado tarde”, 23 November 2020, available in Spanish at: https://bit.ly/3oNIob0

[18] Público, ‘Aumentan los abusos policiales al calor del estado de alarma’ 1 April 2020, available in Spanish at: https://cutt.ly/RtUMqqH.

[19] Melillahoy, ‘El CETI acoge a 900 personas tras el traslado de 90 migrantes a Melilla’, 12 June 2018, available in Spanish at: https://bit.ly/2FybXu5; Europapress, ‘El CETI de Ceuta acoge a 878 extranjeros tras la salida de cien hacia la Península’, 30 August 2018, available in Spanish at: https://bit.ly/2FzOY1G.

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