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.
As already mentioned, shortcomings in the reception system are chronical and have been registered by various sources in recent years. The same problems persisted in 2022. The 2022 Annual Report of the Spanish Ombudsman denounced that many asylum seekers are obliged to live on the streets or in precarious conditions due to the challenges of the reception system as well as of the asylum procedure.
As a response to the issue of overcrowding, as mentioned, EUAA started supporting Spain in the reform of its asylum reception system, including by increasing the number of reception places in the Canary Islands. Aiming at assessing and investigating the provision of material reception conditions, the EUAA launched the Assessment of Reception Conditions (ARC) tool. Spain was one of the Member States who started testing the tool in 2021.
In addition, already in early 2020 the Ministry of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration started to negotiate with a private company (Sociedad de Gestión de Activos procedentes de la Restructuración Bancaria – Sareb) the possibility of using empty apartments for the reception of asylum seekers and undocumented migrants.
As previously mentioned, in the 2022 Annual Report, the Spanish Ombudsman called for additional resources to be allocated for the asylum reception system, and underlined that in many occasions asylum seekers are temporarily accommodated in emergency shelters and other kind of emergency accommodation (i.e. hotel) while waiting to be referred to a place within the asylum reception system.
In August 2022, the Mayor of Madrid denounced that 318 asylum seekers were still accommodated in municipal temporary shelters instead of being referred to the asylum reception system. Thus, he called the Ministry of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration to assume his responsibility and to respect his compromise to refer them to the asylum facilities, also considering that the municipal resources are overcrowded.
Despite the increase in reception capacity, various asylum seekers were still left homeless in 2022.
At the end of July, a family of Georgian asylum seekers with four underage children were sleeping on the streets of Madrid due to the challenging in accessing asylum and the lack of reception places at temporary shelters.
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 2022 apart from what has been mentioned under Access and forms of reception conditions.
Accommodation during the reception phase can take place in:
- Refugee Reception Centres (Centros de acogida de refugiados, CAR) managed by DGSAPIT;
- Reception facilities managed by NGOs, subcontracted by DGSAPIT.
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 is a total of 4 CAR on the Spanish territory:
|Capacity of CAR in 2021
Source: Accem, March 2023.
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 has been a persisting problem in Spain, as explained in Arrivals in the enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla and below under Conditions in CETI.
Moreover, reception places for asylum seekers are available inside the reception centres and private apartments managed by NGOs, funded by the Ministry. At the beginning of 2023, the reception system counted 20 organisations, as listed above.
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.
In 2022, the Government announced the creation of 17 new reception facilities for migrants, 7 out of them located in the Canary Islands This will allow the reception system to increase with 5,700 additional places.
 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.