The agreement with Stop Mare Mortum provides funding for the civil platform to continue rolling out its projects in Greece. Specifically, the funding will help towards legal advice, translation services and social support for people in the refugee camps there.
The legal assistance is mainly needed in camps in Athens and Thessaloniki, allowing for greater efficiency in identifying people who can be relocated to Spain. Stop Mare Mortum has already identified some 300 people willing to come to Barcelona and other cities in the Spanish state via secure routes.
According to the Deputy Mayor for Citizen Rights, Transparency and Participation, Jaume Asens, the work of Stop Mare Mortum and its experience on the ground shows up the lack of will on the part of the Spanish state. Asens explained that the state “always looks for excuses and justifies its failure to stick to its commitments saying that there is no collaboration from the authorities in the countries of origin or that displaced people don’t want to come to Barcelona”.
The state pledged to either relocate or resettle a total of 17,337 people before 26 September this year. So far it has only taken in 7.5% of that total. During the signature of the agreement, and with this in mind, Asens noted: “We’re calling on the EU to open a case against the Spanish government, which is not fulfilling the agreements and which makes immoral use of European funds by diverting them to border controls and immigrant internment centres”.
The legal support covered in the agreement with Stop Mare Mortum helps refugees access information to request international protection. At the same time, the initiative helps combat other mechanisms which lead to the proliferation of mafia style operations and unsafe passages.
Network of solidarity cities
Barcelona City Council has also sealed agreements with refugee host locations such as Lesbos and Lampedusa. There is also a deal with Athens, in line with current legislation, to directly relocate 100 refugees from the Greek capital, an initiative which formed the basis for the creation of the Solidarity Cities network.
The Mayor, Ada Colau, has signed various letters to Greek authorities to convey Barcelona City Council’s willingness as a refuge city. The letters also establish that once the refugees arrive in the city they will have access to municipal services.