The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, on Saturday thanked Spain for its work in redistributing refugees from Afghanistan.
The Spanish Government has created temporary reception facilities at the Torrejón de Ardoz aerodrome, from where they are transferred to other European countries to be welcomed.
“In a time of need, Spain has shown its great sense of solidarity. Spain is an example of what the soul of Europe is at its best,” said Von der Leyen at a press conference, while Charles Michel thanked Pedro Sánchez for his “leadership” and his speed in management: “It was your decision to immediately adopt this initiative to demonstrate European dignity.”
The three leaders wanted to highlight the work that Western countries have done over the last 20 years, and have appreciated the work of the armed forces and collaborators who have tried to improve the living conditions of Afghans in the last two decades.
In this sense, Sánchez has said that Spain is “hard and mature” with the EU, now enabling this reception center and before collaborating in the deployment of international forces when requested by the UN. The Spanish president has trusted that all these years of aid will serve to “germinate in greater security, prosperity and freedom for the Afghan people.”
In this regard, Von der Leyen has stressed that European humanitarian aid to Afghanistan is conditional on the respect for human rights carried out by the Taliban. “You cannot allocate a single euro of humanitarian aid to a regime that denies women and girls their rights. We can listen to the words of the Taliban, but what we will do is measure them by their actions,” he said.
In this regard, he stressed that the EU does not recognize the Taliban government and there are no political talks with them.
Before visiting the temporary reception facilities, the three leaders held a meeting in the context of the emergency posed by the crisis in Afghanistan.
A center for 800 people
The temporary reception center installed in Torrejón will be the “logistics center of Europe” through which all Afghans who have collaborated with the European institutions during the years of mission in the Central Asian country will pass, as announced this Friday by the minister of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation, José Manuel Albares.
In total, the temporary transit facilities installed have the capacity to accommodate up to 800 people, with differentiated spaces for women and children.
They also have a dining room for 200 people, toilet areas and showers and a space has been set up for children to play, another for breastfeeding and baby feeding and another for health and psychological care. All of them will be provided with food, drink, masks and feminine and infant hygiene utensils.