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Palestinians seeking asylum stranded at Barcelona Airport for days

November 19, 2021 at 9:52 pm

Catalonia’s regional Minister of Feminism and Equality (R) Tania Verge takes at the Generalitat Palace in Barcelona on May 26, 2021 [LLUIS GENE/AFP via Getty Images]

The Catalan Minister for Equality urged the Spanish government on Friday to take better care of a group of 39 Palestinians who solicited asylum at Barcelona Airport earlier this week, Anadolu News Agency reports.

“We remind the state that the duty to protect is an international obligation, and demand authorities to give these people access to the state reception program while their asylum requests are being processed,” Tania Verge said in a statement.

On Monday, 39 Palestinians with Lebanese passports took advantage of a flight layover in Barcelona to apply for asylum in Spain. Their flight took off from Cairo, bound for Quito, Ecuador.

Spanish media reported that they have been stuck at the airport for days while their cases are processed.

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According to Spanish dailies, Nius and ABC, 10 people are still at the airport, while 29 have recently been taken to centres hosted by the Red Cross.

Earlier this month, another dramatic migration attempt took place at the nearby airport of Palma de Mallorca.

During a flight from Morocco to Turkey, a passenger allegedly faked a medical emergency that forced the plane to make an emergency landing on the Spanish island.

As the ambulance came to pick up the passenger, a group of around 25 people escaped the plane onto the tarmac, causing the busy airport to shut down for hours.

As of Friday, police have arrested 16 of the people who fled the plane, while nine are still on the run. According to Spanish media, police are considering charging them with crimes as serious as sedition.

While airports are a common way for asylum seekers to reach Spain, especially for those travelling from Latin America, it is often challenging, or even impossible, for people from other countries to do the same. Individuals from 28 nations, including Afghanistan, Syria, Mali, and Palestine must present visas even to transit via Spain by air.

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That is one of the reasons why thousands of migrants and refugees resort to more dangerous means of migration, such as taking small, overcrowded boats from north-west Africa to the Canary Islands.

At the end of August, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) recorded 785 deaths on the route, including 177 women and 50 children. The Spanish NGO, Caminando Fronteras, estimated in July that the number was closer to 2,000 people.

In the last week alone, Spanish authorities discovered at least 10 people who died trying to reach the islands.​​​​​​​