In the Spanish reception system, efforts are made to place asylum seekers in the reception place which best fits their profile and needs depending on their age, sex, household, nationality, existence of family networks, maintenance, etc. A case by case assessment is made between OAR and the relevant NGO in charge of the reception centres and, after assessing the availability of reception spaces and the individual characteristics of the applicant, the person is placed in the place that responds to his or her needs. As asylum seekers’ placement is made on case by case basis, there is an ongoing monitoring mechanism which takes into consideration the response to reception needs of each person concerning the mentioned profiles.
In addition, based on vulnerability factors referred to under the Asylum Act, most vulnerable profiles are allowed to longer reception compared to the normal 18-month period. For vulnerable groups, reception can reach a total of 24 months, following an exceptional authorisation from the competent authority.
Nonetheless, available resources have a generalised approach and do not cover the needs presented by the most vulnerable asylum applicants, who are referred to external and more specialised services in case they need them. The Spanish reception system in fact does not guarantee specialised reception places addressed to asylum applicants such as victims of trafficking, victims of torture, unaccompanied asylum-seeking children or persons with mental disorders. As mentioned in Health care, some NGOs offer receptions facilities and services for asylum seekers with health mental problems. In addition, some NGOs have specific places in their reception facilities specifically addressed to trafficked women.
Reception places for asylum-seeking victims of trafficking are very few, and their number is not made public by the MISSM. The new Regulation on Reception specifically includes the prevention, detection and referral of victims of trafficking as one of the main principles governing any action within the reception system, and it also considers trafficking as a situation of vulnerability.
The generalised approach of the Spanish reception system has been criticised by several organisations in recent years, as it fails to provide adequate needs to the most vulnerable. The Spanish Ombudsman expressed its concerns regarding the serious deficiencies in the humanitarian assistance programmes for migrants. In its 2022 Annual Report, the Ombudsman reiterated the concerns, formerly outlined in a thematic report of 2016, regarding the deficiencies of the asylum reception system and its impossibility in assuring places for all those who need it. In its 2022 annual report on asylum, the organisation CEAR highlighted some deficiencies of the Spanish asylum reception system, such as the lack of appropriate response to specific needs and vulnerabilities due to a lack of flexibility of the system in adapting and responding to such needs.
In 2021, Amnesty International called on the Spanish Government to reform its reception system, for it to be aligned with international human rights standards and adapted to asylum seekers’ needs.
In July 2022, the Spanish Committee of Representatives of Persons with Disabilities (Comité Español de Representantes de Personas con Discapacidad – Cermi) published guidelines for providing an adequate assistance to wmen and girls with disability in situations of armed conflicts and humanitarian emergencies. The document provides practical guidance and suggestions on how to conduct actions directed at fostering social inclusion for women and girls with disability seeking asylum.
On February 2022 the Minister of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration, together with UNHCR, started the implementation of an action protocol on gender-based violence within the reception system, with the aim of improving the prevention, risks mitigation and response for gender-based cases, in line with international and EU laws, A leaflet explaining the protocol has been also published in different languages (i.e. Spanish, English, French, Arabic, Ukrainian), together with a pocket guide for the professionals working in the asylum reception system. Thanks to the protocol, 90 victims of gender-based violence were identified within the asylum reception system between January and June 2022.
Children and unaccompanied minors
There are no specialised resources for unaccompanied asylum seeking-children, and they are thus hosted in general centres for unaccompanied children or left destitute. In a report submitted to the Committee on the Rights of the Child in the occasion of the 7th cycle of assessment of the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Platform for Childhood (Plataforma de Infancia) underlined the necessity to create, especially in the Canary Islands, Andalucía, Ceuta and Melilla, appropriate reception centres to respond to migrant children’s international protection needs. It adds that such centres should provide for legal assistance, interpreters with proper training, and to foster quick referral to other facilities if in the best interest of the child. (See also Legal representation of unaccompanied children).
Due to the conditions of the Melilla’s Centre of Protection of Minors in which they should live because they are under the administration’s custody, children prefer living on the city’s streets and try to reach the Spanish Peninsula hiding in boats. In December 2019, 93 children were in this situation, and 35 in February 2020. At the beginning of January 2021, 115 unaccompanied migrant children and 35 young adults (former UAMs who aged out in 2020) were living on the streets. In order to address issues concerning young adults, in April 2021 the City of Melilla and UNHCR agreed to ask the Minister of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration the transfer of former UAMs who apply for international protection to reception facilities for asylum seekers at the mainland. Information on whether such transfers were finally carried was not available at the time of writing.
At the beginning of January 2022, the police dismantled a child sexual trafficking network and detained 37 persons. The victims were girls under the protection and guardianship of the Autonomous Community of Madrid and accommodated at the Hortaleza facility. The Spanish Ombudsman requested information on the children rescued during said police operation to the Office for Family, Youth and Social Services, but no official response was made public at the time of writing. Similar cases were investigated in 2019 and 2020 in Baleares Islands and the Canary Islands. Save the Children expressed concerns on the cases of sexual abuse and exploitation in different reception facilities for unaccompanied migrant children in Spain, and called the Government to urgently adopt protocols for the prevention and early detection of such cases, as well as trainings to professionals.
The situation of unaccompanied children in the Canary Islands started to raise concerns since 2020, when more than 2,000 children were reportedly not receiving adequate assistance and protection.
Following the call by different stakeholders including the Government of the Canary Islands and the Spanish Ombudsman, the General Directorate for Children of the Ministry of Social Rights and the 2030 Agenda approved in 2022 a Management Model for migration contingencies for unaccompanied children and adolescents. The model is aimed at providing a tailored response for of migratory pressure on minors’ protection systems at border territories such as the Canary Islands, Ceuta, Melilla or Andalucía. For these situations, the model foresees the possibility to activate different Response Plans for Children and Adolescents, with the aim of referring and distributing children at national level. The beneficiaries of such measures are unaccompanied migrant children and adolescents, who have entered Spain through an Autonomous Community whose child protection system is overwhelmed and thus are unable to comply with the best interests of these minors at that time. Several stakeholders advocated for this “solidarity or responsibility sharing mechanism” for many years. Following such a plan, the Government and the Autonomous Communities agreed to transfer 400 UAMs from Ceuta and the Canary Islands to reception facilities in mainland, due to the situation of overcrowding. In addition, other 374 UAMs will be transferred in 2023. In November 2022, the Government of the Canary Islands established a budget increase for the assistance to UAMs of around 1,4 million Euros.
During the last years, problems and challenges in carrying out age assessment procedure to UAMs in the Canary Islands have been reported, with around 2,000 unaccompanied migrant children waiting to undergo such a procedure. In its 2022 annual report, the Spanish Ombudsman continued to express concerns on the issue, as hundreds of UAMs keep on waiting the Public Prosecutor Office to issue the decree determining their age.
In June 2021, the Law on the protection of children against violence – an important step forward in guaranteeing children rights and protection against any form of violence – was approved. The Platform of Childhood published a guide to disseminate the content of the law to different stakeholders, as well as to identify the next steps necessary to assure the effective and practical implementation of the law. Among others, the law established the obligation for the personnel of certain centres/facilities (i.e. health centres, schools, sport and leisure centres, social services) to communicate situations of violence against children. Professionals working at protection centres for unaccompanied migrant children, asylum reception facilities and centres for the humanitarian assistance of migrants are subjected to such obligation. In addition, the law reiterates the obligation of the competent authorities to guarantee children in need of international protection access to territory and to the asylum procedure, independently of their nationality and of the means used to access the Spanish territory, in accordance with the Asylum Act. In November 2022 the Strategy to eradicate violence against children was adopted.
As outlined by the Spanish Ombudsman in his 2022 annual report, the Autonomous Communities started to develop and put in place different actions aiming at implementing such a law (i.e. protocols on detection and reporting of cases of violence against children, trainings to professionals, etc.). 
In October 2021, the Government adopted the reform of the Regulation of the Immigration Law, aimed at fostering the integration of unaccompanied migrant children and young adults. Many stakeholders advocated for the reform of the Regulation of the Immigration Law, including many former UAMs, and they regarded it as an extremely positive development. The law will allow the regularization of around 8,000 young adults who arrived in Spain as UAMs. After one year of implementation, the reform allowed almost 17,000 UAMs and young adults to obtain a residence and work permit. In this respect, the Spanish Ombudsman acknowledged the positive impact of such a reform.
In November 2022 the Government adopted the National Action Plan for the implementation of the European Child Guarantee for the period 2022-2030, which includes a set of measures addressing also refugee children, asylum seeking children and UAMs.
Thanks to the opening of a reception facility for UAMs at Rada de Haro (Castilla La Mancha) three years ago, the almost abandoned town revived, together with its economy and the job market.
Discrimination and hate crime
Discrimination and hate crimes against migrants and refugees continued to be a reason of concern in 2022.
In occasion of the 2022 World Migrants Day, several organisations denounced the increase of xenophobia and racism against migrants in different contexts (i.e. public transport, education, shops, etc.).
In a press release published in occasion of the 2023 International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, Amnesty International highlighted the discriminatory practices occurring in the context of migration and especially in relation to border management, and denounced how such practices demonstrates the institutional racism existing in Spain.
Several developments relating to discrimination and hate crime were reported throughout 2022 and at the beginning of 2023.
In February 2022 the National Federation of Lesbians, Gays, Trans, Bisexuals and Intersexuals+ (Federación Estatal de Lesbianas, Gais, Trans, Bisexuales, Intersexuales y más – FELGTBI+) launched a proposal, together with groups of LGTBI+ persons, homelessness people, migrants, Romas, and persons with disabilities to engage the government in the fight against hate crimes suffered by vulnerable groups.
In April, the Government adopted the Second Action Plan to Fight against Hate Crimes for 2022-2024, while in July it approved the comprehensive law on equal treatment and discrimination, welcomed by the organisations forming the Alliance for the Law on Equal Treatment as a step forward in the fight against discrimination. Nevertheless, the Alliance highlighted that the law remained lacking in some areas, mainly due to the failure to introduce additional mechanisms – such as accompaniment and translation – to guarantee an effective and comprehensive protection of victims. In addition, the Alliance voiced concerns on the lack of measures to tackle discrimination in certain contexts, such as the action of law enforcement agencies and the education. The Spanish Ombudsman indicated to have initiated all the necessary steps to monitor the implementation of the law, and to foster access to the body to all those persons victims of discrimination in any public context.
In December 2022, the organisation Ecos do Sur launched a photo exhibition to raise awareness on the racism and xenophobia that migrants face, using virtual reality.
The 2022 annual report on the situation of racism in Spain of the organisation SOS Racismo, highlighted that institutional racism is widespread. In addition, a report published in March 2023 by SOS Racisme in Cataluña denounced that migrants are three times more likely to be identified by the police than Spanish nationals.
Racist attacks and hate speeches were also registered following the victory of Morocco against Spain during the 2022 Qatar World Cup.
At the beginning of March 2023, a group of activists placed different banners on the external walls of the CIE of Aluche in Madrid to denounce the deprivation of liberty suffered by migrants, as well as the mistreatments and tortures.
Following the announcement to build a facility for asylum seekers in Azuqueca de Henares (Guadalajara), around 200 personas gathered to protest the assignment of a parcel to that purpose.
Unaccompanied children also continued to face serious discrimination in Spain in 2022. In November 2022, a Guardia Civil officer was sentenced to 15 months of prison and a fee of 1,620 Euros for a hate crime trough social network against UAMs. During the same month, following a visit in Spain, the UN Rapporteur on Violence against Children stated that there an increased level of xenophobia and racism was registered in the country.
In its 2022 annual report, the General Public Prosecutor denounced that hate crimes increased in 2021, with an increase of indictments of 44%, identifying political polarisation as one of the main causes of said increase. The report found that main motivations of hate crimes are racism and xenophobia (34,8%), and sexual orientation and gender identity (34,3%).
To tackle hate and negative perceptions against unaccompanied migrant children, in February 2022, Accem launched the campaign ‘Adolescents like everyone else, who need a family as everyone else’, which aims at promoting foster care of unaccompanied migrant children and at the same time focuses on fighting discrimination against unaccompanied minors and existing prejudices regarding their situation. At the end of 2022, the journalist Nico Castellano directed the documentary ‘M’, which gathers the testimonies of 14 UAMs in different reception facilities in Spain, and describes their migration and integration pathways, as well as the racism they faced.
Asylum seekers, refugees and migrants in Spain continue to suffer from financial exclusion and discrimination, because of the challenges often faced while trying to open bank accounts. In February 2022, different organisations urged the Government and the Bank of Spain (Banco de España) to adopt urgent measures to make banking institutions comply with the law and to end a practice that impede the financial and social inclusion of asylum seekers, refugees and migrants.
In 2022, within the project ‘Don’t call out, claim’ (No clames, reclama!), the Federation of Consumers and Users (Federación de Consumidores y Usuarios – CECU) published a practical guide for vulnerable users (including asylum seekers) on their rights regarding the opening of a bank account. The document is available in Spanish, English, French and Arabic. A report published in March 2023 by the organisation CEAR highlighted the challenges that asylum seekers face in opening a bank account, especially connected to the amount of documentation they are legally required.
Similarly, migrants continued to face challenging in accessing health, especially pregnant women and children, despite the legislation guarantee them such a right.
Discrimination and incidents against LGBTQI+ persons (including asylum seekers and migrants) increased in 2022. Amnesty International expressed concerns about such an increase and called for the urgent approval of the law on equal rights of LGTBI+ persons. Similarly, the 2023 ILGA report referred to an increase in the use of transphobic speech and anti-LGBTI hate crimes in Spain.
A police raid in Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia and Alicante at the end of January 2022 led to the dismantlement of a neo-Nazi group who disseminated hate messages and, in one occurrence, attacked a LGTBI+ office near Alicante. In January 2023 the regional police of Cataluña Mossos d’Esquadra initiated an investigation on a homophobic aggression suffered by a trans person in Barcelona. The Municipal Office for No Discrimination of Barcelona denounced that hate crimes motivated by homophobia doubled in 2021, and they represented one third of all discrimination incidents in the city.
In July 2022, the Minister of Interior also reported to have registered an increase of almost 70% in hate crimes against the LGTBI+ community.
In June 2022, the Government approved a law on the equality of transgender individuals and on additional guarantees of LGTBI+ persons’ rights. Such proposal, which is undergoing the parliamentary procedure at the time of writing of this report, foresees also the right self-determination and the possibility of gender rectification at the Civil registry. Amnesty International welcomed the proposal as a step to advance in guarantee LGTBI+ rights. The National Federation of Lesbians, Gays, Trans, Bisexuals, Intersexuals+ (Federación Estatal de Lesbianas, Gais, Trans, Bisexuales, Intersexuales y más – Felgtbi+) called the Government to guarantee the right to change gender at the register to all trans migrants, independently of their administrative situation.
In occasion of the 2022 World Day against LGTBI-phobia, the organization CCAR called for safe and legal pathways for LGTBI persons to seek asylum, and that both in the asylum reception and procedure gender and sex perspectives are taken into account. Similarly, different Ministers adopted a joint institutional declaration in commemoration of such a day, acknowledging the increase in homophobic indictments and crimes, as well as reaffirming the compromise of the Spanish Government in guaranteeing LGTBI persons’ rights and the adoption of measures aiming at eradicating discrimination, aggressions and acts of violence against LGTBI community.
In commemoration of the World AIDS Day, the National Federation of Lesbians, Gays, Trans, Bisexuals, Intersexuals+ (Federación Estatal de Lesbianas, Gais, Trans, Bisexuales, Intersexuales y más – Felgtbi+) requested the administration to guarantee free access to AIDS’ treatments to all migrants, regardless of their administrative situation.
 DGIAH, Reception Handbook, November 2018, A, 6.
 DGIAH, Reception Handbook, November 2018, G.2 (22), G.3 (24).
 Boletín Oficial del Estado, ‘Real Decreto 220/2022, de 29 de marzo, por el que se aprueba el Reglamento por el que se regula el sistema de acogida en materia de protección internacional’, available in Spanish at: https://bit.ly/3QR8SHo; Migrar con Derechos, ‘Instrucción SEM de 15 de diciembre de 2022. Acceso y permanencia sistema acogida protección internacional’, 15 December 2022, available at: https://bit.ly/42A0pxQ.
 Asociación Pro derechos Humanos de Andalucía, El Defensor del Pueblo advierte “significativas carencias” en el diseño de los programas de acogida humanitaria, 7 August 2020, available in Spanish at: https://bit.ly/2LUNvrI.
 Europapress, ‘Amnistía Internacional exige un sistema de acogida en España que cumpla con los estándares internacionales de DDHH’, 19 January 2021, available in Spanish at: https://bit.ly/3ojHce5.
 CERMI, Fundación CERMI Mujeres, ‘¡S.O.S. por las mujeres y niñas con discapacidad! Guía para proporcionar una asistencia adecuada en situaciones de conflictos armados y emergencias humanitarias’, July 2022, available at: https://bit.ly/3psaU3U.
 ACNUR, Ministerio de Inclusión, Seguridad Social y Migraciones, ‘Protocolo de actuación ante la violencia contra las mujeres solicitantes y beneficiarias de protección internacional y temporal’, available at: https://bit.ly/3PWMQCA.
 ACNUR, Ministerio de Inclusión, Seguridad Social y Migraciones, ‘Cómo actuar ante la violencia contra las mujeres solicitantes y beneficiarias de protección internacional y temporal. Guía de bolsillo para profesionales del SAPIT sobre la aplicación del protocolo de actuación ante la violencia contra las mujeres en el sistema de acogida de protección internacional, dirigida al personal técnico’, available at: https://bit.ly/3WBmyIv.
 Público, ‘Las menores tuteladas en centros de acogida, desamparadas ante mafias de la prostitución por falta de voluntad política’, 4 January 2022, available at: https://bit.ly/3AcZgy6; El Mundo, ‘El sobrecogedor testimonio de las menores liberadas: “Me obligaron a tener sexo con tres personas y me pegaron”’, January 2022, available at: https://bit.ly/3ryMzK3; Público, ‘La Comunidad de Madrid desatendió a las menores que una mafia obligaba a prostituirse y que vivían en sus centros de acogida’, 4 January 2022, available at: https://bit.ly/3q2JsdQ.
 Defensor del Pueblo, ‘El Defensor del Pueblo solicita información sobre la situación de las menores liberadas en una operación contra la explotación sexual en la Comunidad de Madrid’, 4 January 2022, available at: https://bit.ly/3rxJ2fQ.
 El Faro de Ceuta, ‘Save The Children, preocupada ante la vulneración de derechos de niñas y adolescentes tuteladas víctimas de explotación sexual’, 14 January 2022, available at: https://bit.ly/3rvSorP.
 Information provided by Save the Children in March 2023.
 El Diario, ‘Cómo son las pruebas de edad por las que desesperan “congelados” más de 1.700 migrantes en Canarias’, 27 May 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3JQeT31; Unicef, ‘Canarias: niños y niñas migrantes en una de las rutas más peligrosas del mundo’, July 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3fi8wYc, 20.
 Unicef, ‘Proteger a la infancia frente a la violencia es responsabilidad de todos. Se aprueba en el Congreso la nueva Ley de Protección de la Infancia’, 20 May 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3GlK7wJ.
 Plataforma de infancia, Universidad Pontificia Comillas, ‘Guía sobre la Ley Orgánica de Protección integral a la Infancia y la Adolescencia frente a la Violencia’, September 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3tlLd8b.
 Ministerio de Inclusión, Seguridad Social y Migraciones – Prensa, ‘El Gobierno aprueba la reforma del Reglamento de Extranjería para favorecer la integración de menores extranjeros y jóvenes extutelados’, 19 October 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3q27zt9; PICUM, ‘Spain adopts law to facilitate regularisation of young migrants?, 18 October 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3zxw1G9.
 CEAR, ‘Comunicado CEAR y otras ONG. Jóvenes que llegaron solos de menores urgen a reformar el Reglamento de Extranjería’, 21 July 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3GkZp5b; El País, ‘Lógica reforma para los jóvenes inmigrantes’, 23 July 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3qYcGtS; El Diario, ‘400 migrantes extutelados se concentran frente a Interior para pedir el desbloqueo de la reforma del reglamento de Extranjería’, September 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3zy6Ym8.
 CEAR, ‘Entidades de migración e infancia celebran la reforma del Reglamento de Extranjería’, 19 October 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3t2abt7; El Diario, ‘Jóvenes inmigrantes extutelados, tras el nuevo reglamento de Extranjería: “Ojalá podamos tener papeles y trabajar”, October 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3zIGpLm.
 Ministerio de Derechos Sociales y Agenda 2023, ‘Infancia con derechos: Plan de Acción Estatal para la Implementación de la Garantía Infantil Europea (2022-2030)’, July 2022, available at: https://bit.ly/3zk3hl1.
 Amnistía Internacional, ‘AI: En el Día Internacional para la Eliminación de la Discriminación Racial recordamos la masacre de Sharpeville y el racismo institucional’, 21 March 2023, available at: https://bit.ly/3nEocfR.
 Accem, ‘La Alianza por la Ley de Igualdad de Trato celebra por fin su aprobación en el Congreso’, 1 July 2022, available at: https://bit.ly/3MjIhlM.
 SOS Racisme, ‘(In)Visibles. L’estat del racisme a Catalunya. Informe 2022’, March 2023, available at: https://bit.ly/3znYPlf; Público, ‘Los extranjeros tienen tres veces más probabilidades de ser identificados por la Policía que los españoles’, 30 November 2022, available at: https://bit.ly/3nFzgcK.
 Fiscalía General del Estado, ‘Memoria elevada al gobierno de S. M. presentada al inicio del año judicial por el Fiscal General del Estado Excmo. Sr. D. Álvaro García Ortiz’, 7 September 2022, p. 956, available at: https://bit.ly/3eFPKgB; El Plural, ‘La teniente fiscal alerta de que la polarización política provoca un incremento de los delitos de odio’, 7 September 2022, available at: https://bit.ly/3xd6hid.
 No Clames, Reclama, ‘Guía Cuentas de Pago Básicas. Consumidores Vulnerables’, 2022, available in Spanish at: https://bit.ly/3IZnthS.
 La Vanguardia, ‘La Felgtbi+ exige garantizar el cambio registral de género a las personas trans migrantes, al margen de su situación administrativa’, 16 December 2022, available at: https://bit.ly/436jzeE.
 La Moncloa, ‘Acuerdo por el que se aprueba la declaración institucional con motivo del 17 de mayo, Día Internacional contra la homofobia, la transfobia y la bifobia’, 17 May 2022, available at: https://bit.ly/40YvVnj.