The San Carlos Borromeo church in Madrid has opened its doors to refugees, providing mattresses on the floor for those who would otherwise be forced to sleep on the streets of the Spanish capital.
Footage shot on Monday shows eight refugees having dinner, cleaning the table and preparing their beds in the church, where they have reportedly been staying since June 6
The refugees, seven Syrians and one Palestinian, were returned to Spain under the Dublin Regulation, the European Union law that determines which member state is responsible for an asylum seeker, which is usually the country through which they first entered the EU.
"Before arriving here, the family, meaning the father, the eight-months-pregnant mother and the three kids, had slept for two days in the SAMUR [local emergency service] headquarters because there was no more room," said Priest Javier Baeza of the San Carlos Borromeo Parish. "They called me and I said, okay, they can sleep in the church if there is no alternative. And, as they were leaving, there were another four boys who were in the same situation."
"For me, it's obvious that there is a lack of political will," Baeza added. "I don't think the current situation of people arriving here is unmanageable for a country like Spain, with a population of almost 48 million, or for a community which has the largest or the second largest GDP in the country, and for the city council of Spain’s capital, which is considering entering the competition to host the Olympic Games."
According to EU statistics, over 4 million refugees have requested asylum in member states since 2014, with 580,800 first-time applications in 2018 alone. Of those, Spain received a record breaking 54,000 requests, placing it in the top five European countries with the most requests in 2018. However, it has reportedly only granted a quarter of those requests, the lowest rate of the seven countries with the most requests.