Is Spain’s asylum process fair?

Spanish asylum approval way below Europe

Image depicting the Spanish border. Credit: GagoDesign/

In 2023, Spain witnessed an unprecedented number of asylum requests, totalling 195,000, including those fleeing the turmoil in Ukraine.

This marked a new historical peak, yet the rate of approved applications fell sharply to just 12 per cent, a stark contrast to the European average of around 40 per cent, as highlighted by the Spanish Commission for Refugee Assistance (CEAR) in its ‘More than figures’ report.

Challenges in accessing asylum

The increase in asylum applications was 37 per cent higher than the previous year. However, CEAR has voiced concerns over ‘the enormous and serious obstacles that people are having in accessing the procedure.’

Issues like getting appointments and formalising requests have become chronic, leaving thousands in legal limbo for months, a situation that breaches the European Procedures Directive.

Nationalities seeking refuge

Most asylum requests came from Venezuelans, Colombians, and Peruvians, who together accounted for nearly 79 per cent of the total applications.

The report also noted a significant rise in applications from Russian nationals, mainly due to forced recruitment and deteriorating human rights conditions, especially for the LGBTIQ+ community.

The situation at Barajas

At Madrid’s Barajas Airport, the number of asylum requests at border posts rose by 25 per cent, exacerbating delays and causing severe overcrowding.

The Ombudsman’s recent visit highlighted potential degrading treatment of refugees, impacting their dignity and fundamental rights.

Despite the Ministry of the Interior’s efforts to improve conditions, CEAR criticises the introduction of transit visas for Kenyan and Senegalese nationals as it hinders access to asylum for those in dire need.

Spain’s handling of asylum applications not only fails to meet the European standard but also raises questions about the effectiveness of its refugee assistance framework.

With the backlog of cases continuing to grow, the need for a more compassionate and efficient approach has never been more critical.

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Written by

John Ensor

Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina. He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.


    • Trixie Miller

      10 February 2024 • 17:19

      Charity begins at home and I should hate Spain to be in the same catastrophic situation as the UK,

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