Only 30 of 3,082 Cuban Applicants Obtained Asylum in Spain in 2023

This represents less than 1%, while Nicaraguans obtained 30%

Archive image of a group of immigrants waiting at the Asylum and Refuge office of the Tarajal border in Ceuta to request an appointment to request asylum / EFE/Reduan Dris

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Madrid, 17 June 2024 — Cuban refugee applications in Spain more than doubled in 2023 compared to the previous year but very few obtained favorable resolutions. While in 2022 there were 1,392, last year 3,082 were formalized. According to the annual report of the Spanish Commission for Aid to Refugees (CEAR), published on Monday, not only an increase of 54% but also that Cuba is now in the fifth position among the nationalities that applied for asylum in the European country.

CEAR says that the numbers are “a reflection of the political and humanitarian crisis that this country is going through,” but the Island registers one of the lowest protection rates of all those reported, 3.7%. Less than half of the petitions submitted have been resolved (1,157), and of them only 30 received refugee status. A total of 1,127 did not receive any protection, 777 due to an unfavorable resolution and 350 due to rejection of their application.

For Morocco, its citizens occupy sixth place in asylum applications in Spain, with 3,076, 21% less than those registered in 2022 (3,905), but nevertheless these are resolved favorably in a much higher proportion than those of Cubans. In 2023, 4,435 requests from Moroccans were resolved – not only from 2023 but from previous years – of which 273 received refugee status.

In 2023, 4,435 requests from Moroccans were resolved, of which 273 received refugee status

More favorable are the numbers for Nicaragua, in seventh place in number of applications. Out of a total of 2,759 (30.3% more than the previous year), protection was granted to 837 people.

In the list of the top ten nationalities, Russia enters for the first time in its history (in ninth place), with 1,694 applications in 2023, more than double the 684 in 2022. Among the reasons based on the petitions are the “forced recruitment” for the war initiated by Putin in Ukraine as well as the deterioration of human rights, especially for “reasons of religion and gender identity and sexual orientation.” Of the 1,132 applications received from Russian nationals, 647 received refugee status, and eight, “subsidiary protections,” which represents a spectacular protection percentage of 59.7%.

This is a rate well above the Spanish average (12%) and even the European average (42%). CEAR indicates that Spain, being the third country in the European Union in refugee applications, is, at the same time, the one that least grants them. In 2023, it recorded the highest number of protection requests in its history: 163,220, an increase of 37.3%.

Venezuela is, for the eighth consecutive year, the country of origin with the highest number of asylum applications (60,534), compared to 45,748 in 2022, an increase of 32.32%. It is followed by Colombia, Peru and Honduras. The first three nationalities account for 78.7% of the total registered requests.

“None of these measures has improved access to the international protection procedure in Spain”

The Commission also criticizes the Spanish system of prior appointments, whose “poor availability and unpredictability” caused the existence of “an irregular market for sale.” This system, explains CEAR, “became practically the only way to access the procedure, after payment of 30 to 500 euros, an amount impossible to raise on many occasions by people who have had to invest all their assets to reach a safe place to apply for protection.”

It also recalls the operation carried out in May 2023 against one of the criminal networks that captured appointments with a bot and later resold them (about 69 people were arrested). “None of these measures has improved access to the international protection procedure in Spain,” the organization protests, which indicates that the system even violates European regulations.

The CEAR report also reflects the situation of displaced people around the world, which in 2023 surpassed historical records with more than 110 million people forced to flee their homes, according to figures from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Similarly, it dedicates a chapter to the main migratory corridor for Cubans — ‘mesoamerica’ — from Nicaragua to the United States. CEAR notes that in 2023 the record of arrests on the southern border of the United States was broken, with almost two and a half million people arrested (2,475,669, an increase of 4% compared to 2022). In Mexico, 140,982 migrants applied for refuge, the highest number ever recorded, of which 18,386 were Cubans (in third place behind Haitians and Hondurans).

Translated by Regina Anavy


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