The organization assures that asylum requests cannot be processed, either online or in person, which leaves people in a situation of lack of protection.
The right to asylum is regulated by International Law and is an obligation of States. It is included as a fundamental human right in article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that "in case of persecution, every person has the right to apply for asylum and to benefit from it in other countries". Spain recognizes it and regulates it in its Constitution, through the Asylum Law. Even if it seems obvious, it doesn't hurt to remember it and insist on it, and even more so when, in the middle of 2022, this right continues to be violated in the Spanish State.
This is what is happening in Ceuta, as reported by No Name Kitchen (NNK), the NGO present in the Balkans, Greece and the Southern border, among others, that supports refugees who suffer from the lack of safe and legal migration routes. According to the organization, for at least two months the possibility of applying for asylum and protection in Ceuta has been denied, since the online platform for requesting an appointment informs the applicants that “there are no appointments available”, without setting a time horizon for get an appointment.
"The majority of people who are trying to apply for asylum, and fail to do so, are adult Moroccans. We don't know exactly how many people are affected, but what we want to highlight above all is the irregularity of this practice. Normally, if a person wants to apply for asylum and they don't have an appointment a week from now, they give it for later, but they give you the appointment, something that's not happening now in Ceuta", assures to Xarxanet B., a member from NNK.
In addition, NNK indicates that there is no possibility, either in person or online, to obtain a receipt of their manifestation of willingness to apply for asylum and has not succeeded for reasons beyond their responsibility. The organization, which offers legal advice to people applying for asylum, among other tasks, is supporting at least five people who are in this situation.
This is an important point. In Ceuta, if a person processes an asylum request and does not receive an answer within a month and a day, they have the right to move around the peninsula legally from that moment on, as the organization explains. Without the possibility of proving that they have tried to apply for asylum, many people, who cannot return to their country because they would put themselves in danger, are trapped in Ceuta in a situation of absolute lack of protection against a possible return.
A blockage that NNK assigns to "political causes"
NNK has contacted sources from the sub-delegation of the Spanish Government and they justify this by arguing technical reasons. "We've been told that the website has been down for so long because of technical issues, because many people are trying to make an appointment at the same time, but it's hard to believe because if you go to the offices on the border you don't see anyone there", they say from the organization.
The NGO, on the other hand, believes that these obstacles respond to "political reasons" and to the desire that fewer people have the possibility of obtaining some document that allows them to have the right to certain protection.
Our interpretation is that it has its origin in the agreement on migratory matters that Spain and Morocco signed last May, in which the African country undertook to be particularly vigilant in controlling migratory flows towards the peninsula, and in fact we are seeing that the border is more closed than ever", points out B. The entity has already filed a formal complaint with the ombudsman to report these irregularities, but has not yet received a response.
Obstacles that lead to mental health problems in people seeking asylum
Beyond this situation, NNK warns that the obstacles to applying for asylum come from afar. When it rains, it pours. For example, people who want to apply for asylum are always told to do so electronically, when many of them do not have a mobile phone or a computer to do so and often do not know how to speak Spanish.
In addition, the organization warns that there is no structure or support in the city of Ceuta, apart from the juvenile centers and the Center for Temporary Residence of Immigrants (CETI), which provides legal advice to people who want to apply asylum; and many people, because of their age or nationality, are excluded from CETI or juvenile centres.
NNK works on the ground supporting asylum appliyers and knows the consequences these people suffer in the face of these difficulties and arbitrariness when it comes to regularizing their situation. "We see many situations of anxiety and stress, which sometimes lead to depression and other serious mental health problems; these are people who have left their families out of necessity and often risk their lives to end up stuck in Ceuta, without resources or possibilities to move forward", says B.