A THIRD flight carrying evacuees fleeing the Taliban in Afghanistan arrived in Spain on Saturday night at a military airbase close to Madrid where a temporary camp has been set up to house up to 1,000 refugees.
The camp alongside the runway at the Torrejon de Ardoz will have the capacity to shelter 1,000 arrivals before they are relocated to other EU member states to seek asylum, Spain’s foreign minister said on Friday.
Jose Manuel Albares, confirmed that the base would act as the entry point to the EU for refugees and their families.
“It is a hub; they arrive in Spain and from here they will go to other nations who offer them visas,” the minister told state broadcaster RTVE in an interview on Friday.
“It is Europe’s logistics centre to process Afghans who worked with various EU institutions in recent years,” he explained.
“In the hub, a temporary entry permit is issued but the asylum requests will be processed by the European countries that receive individuals,” explained Albares.
The first plane arrived early Thursday morning and a second on Friday morning. It is believed that the two flights brought a total of 89 people including 32 children, thought to be former employees or family members of those who had worked with EU institutions, as well as five Spaniards.
A third plane arrived late on Saturday night carrying 110 more people to Torrejon.
It comes after the tragic news that at least four Afghan women were crushed to death in a surge at the capital’s airport in 31C heat on Saturday.
There are fears thousands of Afghans will be left behind as the chaotic scramble to flee the Taliban gathered a frightening pace.
In the wake of a horrific crush at Kabul airport, many had been pronounced dead and covered in white sheets.
Other paratroopers tried to pull people, including young children, from the chaos. Some sprayed the crowd with hoses to try to cool them down as medics frantically dashed between casualties.
So far 12,000 foreigners and Afghans working for embassies and international aid groups have been flown out of Kabul.
Places in Spain that have offered help
The mayor of Barcelona Ada Colau announced on Monday that they had 50 places available to provide shelter for Afghan women and girls in the city.
Colau took to Instagram to confirm the plans adding that ‘states that must establish safe corridors so that they can arrive as soon as possible ‘
She wrote: “There is an urgent need for international diplomacy, but also emergency humanitarian measures. The international community and the UN must react to the disaster that years of war have caused and not suddenly leave the population to their fate.
“We owe it to the citizens, especially the millions of women and girls who are now in imminent danger of being stoned, tortured, raped and killed for dancing, singing, working or studying.”
Begoña Villacs, the deputy mayor of Madrid, has said that the City Council will make 25 places available to the Government initially with the aim to expand to 100. The city wants to prioritise hosting Afghan women who have managed to flee the Taliban.
The mayor of Cadiz Jose Maria Gonzlez has sent a letter to the Spanish Government to offer the Cadiz as a ‘refuge city’ for Afghan women and girls. “We cannot remain passive in the face of this painful reality,” he said. “This is a flagrant attack against freedom that, once again, has the biggest impact on women.”
Aragon is one of the regions that has promised to host Afghan refugees. President Javier Lamban has already contacted Moncloa to collaborate and offer humanitarian aid.
Both the Generalitat Valenciana and the Valencia City Council have pledged to make Afghans feel welcome. “We are going to continue offering our help so that those fleeing can find a safe haven,” they said.