Integral and Emergency Reception Programme for People and Families in Temporary Protection Regime in Spain and Migrants in Extreme Vulnerability Situation in the Mejía Lequerica City Council Shelter

Practice Aim

To provide attention, support and emergency accommodation, on a temporary basis at the Mejía Lequerica Municipal Shelter, to applicants and beneficiaries of international protection, until they can access the social protection provided by the national asylum system and migrant people in a situation of high vulnerability.

Target Groups

Families with minors, people without family support and in an emergency situation, migrants in situations of high vulnerability.

Identification of stakeholders that made an identification of the practice:

Immigration and Refuge Department, Madrid City Council.


Montserrat Otero Arroyo. Head of the Attention for Immigration and Intercultural Section. Immigration and Refuge Department of Madrid City Council

Do you belong to any project? Can you give us more information?

  • Integral Reception and Emergency Programme for People and Families.
  • Grant Agreement between Madrid City Council and Spanish Refugee Assistance Commission (Comisión Española de Ayuda al Refugiado – CEAR entity)

Target group, beneficiaries

Asylum Seekers and vulnerable migrants: families with minors, people without family support and in an emergency situation, migrants in situations of high vulnerability.

Main needs and vulnerabilities

In this situation both, information as well as guidance and temporary attention to basic needs, are essential to avoid a situation of severe exclusion that due to the current reality and constantly increasing flow of international protection applicants who remain in our city waiting for a state reception resource, requires a humanitarian response.

Emergency intervention, accommodation, information, guidance and temporary care, to applicants for international protection until they access the state system of social protection for refugees and migrants in a high vulnerability situation, during their stay in Madrid city.

In the facilities of the Mejía Lequerica City Council Shelter, located in the C / Mejía Lequerica, 21, as a temporary center for emergency shelter and short stays, with a maximum capacity for 128 people in 25 rooms.

This program intends to provide attention, support and emergency accommodation, on a temporary basis at the Mejía Lequerica Municipal Shelter, to applicants and beneficiaries of international protection, until they can access the social protection provided by the national asylum system and migrant people in a situation of high vulnerability.

To carry out this action, different intervention areas are articulated:

  1. General Service Coordination.
  2. Residential-assistance area. Temporary reception.
  3. Emergency psychosocial care.
  4. Information and guidance in the emergency situation.
  5. Dynamization and cohabitation.

Application Context

Applicants and beneficiaries of international protection who are waiting to join the Spanish Asylum System. They are mainly families with minors and single people who are in the city of Madrid, without family support and in an emergency situation or at risk of being there. Migrants in situations of high vulnerability may be assessed, who remain outside the refugee protection system, may also be assessed.


Program general goal is to provide emergency accommodation and to cover basic needs at Mejía Lequerica Shelter to international protection applicants and migrants in situations of vulnerability or social emergency, during their stay in Madrid city.

  • Goal 1: Provide adequate residential attention and basic needs coverage for a certain period of time to single people (men and women) and / or families with minors, that are in an emergency situation or with high vulnerability, and migrants in high vulnerability situation until they join the State Protection System for International Protection Applicants.
  • Goal 2: To provide information and advice on the state reception system for men and women, international protection applicants and refugees.
  • Goal 3: To develop an individual or family intervention design for those people who, for exceptional circumstances, stay more than 30 days in the device, addressing in this design the social, health, psychological, legal, training and leisure and cohabitation areas.
  • Goal 4: To support and to facilitate access to the attention network to:
    • migrant and homeless women and men
    • those who have been denied access to join the asylum system and/or have been denied international protection or who are in an irregular administrative situation and/or that lack economic resources and/or family network.
  • Goal 5: Provide resources and skills that favour coexistence and an adequate and progressive incorporation into the host society, especially encouraging a larger number of women participation and actively promoting their prominence role.


Annual agreement

Accessibility Requirements / Issues

Stay period in the program is 7 days, extendable according to technical criteria established by the coordination of CEAR in Madrid and/or by the shelter management after the assessment of the social workers team and after communicating to the reference person of the Department of Immigration and Refuge. This period may be extended according to criteria and always with prior express authorization by the Immigration and Refuge Department in the following situations:

  • Depending on the vulnerability criteria established by Art. 46 of the Asylum Law.
  • When a response to the re-entry request to the host system exceeds that period.
  • In exceptional cases authorized by CEAR coordination in Madrid or the shelter management.

Users may have access to the program through different channels, listed below:

  • CEAR, from the different services that compose it.
  • Madrid-Barajas Airport Red Cross Reception Service for cases in which Dublin Regulation applies.
  • In addition to those already existing, according to the aforementioned profiles, other NGOs that participate in the Asylum Reception System may deliver some people, always with a prior express authorization of Madrid City Council.

Performance procedures, ways of carrying it out: Currently, to perform the activity, Madrid City Council through the General Directorate of Primary Attention, Community Intervention and Social Emergency, on which Immigration and Refuge Department and Homeless and Social Samur Department depend, maintains periodic coordination with Labour Migration and Social Security Ministry to establish some mechanisms that expedite the appointments between Social Work Unit and people and families, that are in the Madrid city council system and have formalized the asylum application.

Principles of action, and values

The work methodology is based on a rights approach, on the reception, diagnosis, referral and, where it is appropriate, intervention design of people, who arrive at the shelter through the access ways determined by this agreement. Gender approach is included in the entire methodology.

In the hours following their arrival, residents have an initial interview with social workers. In this first interview, an assessment is made of the trajectory, the migratory project, the previous socio-family history and the short-term expectations that each person raises. Depending on the initial assessment and the expected time of stay, a design of social intervention with the objectives to work will be considered. In this interview, information is provided on the steps to follow depending on each specific situation and an appointment with Asylum and Refuge Office (Oficina de Asilo y Refugio – OAR) will be requested in the cases in which it is appropriate.


  • Proximity: generating close links between professionals and users.
  • Flexibility: It will involve adapting the regulations, actions and Program services to the user’s needs.
  • Transparency and clarity: making sure that both, professionals and users, have knowledge of the services that can be provided from the Program.
  • Dignity: it will mean respect for the rights and freedoms of people, as well as their autonomy.
  • Equity and Equal Opportunities: guaranteeing access to all program services to all the people who need it.
  • Individualization: every staff action will consider the specific situation of each person.
  • Coordination, complementarity and networking: with professionals from other services, both public and private, to carry out an attention aimed at the stabilization and integral improvement of the person’s situation.
  • Coordination, complementarity and networking: with professionals from other services, both public and private, to carry out an attention aimed to stabilize and to improve a person’s situation.
  • Emergency / Temporary: providing support during the entire stay of the person in the Program and offering a framework of coexistence aimed at covering basic needs, as well as the containment of the emergency situation in which it is also promoted that the person can access, if it is appropriate, other resources, centers or services, institutionalized or not, for giving continuity to its improvement process.
  • Quality: guiding the actions of all professionals across the Program towards continuous improvement, getting participants satisfaction and efficiency and effectiveness of carried out actions.

Difficulties or limitations for its implementation

Difficulty special situation of this group means that in the desirable results for each user, other factors that exceed Madrid city council competencies and managing entity capacity of action intervene, mainly by circumstances linked to criteria and instructions changes of:

  • MITRAMISS (Labour, Migration and Social Security Ministry)
  • OAR (Asylum and Refuge Office)
  • European border guidelines and SECA (Common European Asylum System).

For this reason, to evaluate results of the measurable part of this project, activity indicators are used, which also guarantee that entity has carried out the actions for which it has obtained the subsidy.

Evaluation also considers how and with what incidence these factors affect to beneficiaries, professionals and environment. Qualitative and quantitative indicators are collected monthly, which allow measuring fulfilment degree of goals, bearing in mind gender approach, disaggregating some indicators by sex.


Since the Program start-up, results obtained have been quite satisfactory considering available places number limitations, difficulties in leaving for certain families and people because Ministry criteria has been changing over the years.


In the first moments in reception program, Mejía Lequerica Shelter was conceived to facilitate the re-entry of people who had just left Ministry reception centers, with the intention of leaving for Europe. Mainly Syrian families who arrived in Madrid, from Melilla Reception Center and were in Mendez Álvaro coach station with the intention of traveling to Europe. Since its opening, the Mejía Lequerica Shelter has been paying attention that was carried out since the citizen response, providing emergency accommodation, food, information and guidance on the Asylum system, especially about what happens if they apply Dublin Regulation. Many families despite receiving information decide to abandon the resource to travel to Europe, 966 people in 2016 and a smaller number in 2017, 612 people. After months they were deported to our country in application of the Dublin Regulation. So, from the Mejía Lequerica Shelter, access to the Protection System from the Ministry (MISTRAMIS) was requested, since they are without livelihoods, to cover their basic needs.

Target profile from the shelter has been redefined throughout 2017 mainly due to criteria changes by Employment and Social Security Ministry (former MEYSS) in relation to accommodation coverage in the first reception to applicants for international protection. Waiting time for an appointment to submit an application for international protection has varied between 1 and 4 months, which has largely determined a significant increase in average stay at Mejía Lequerica Shelter. Exceeding, widely, the established stay length by the agreement, reaching in some cases several months.

People, who have exceeded periods between 15 days and 3 months the established stay in the agreement, are in one of the following situations:

  • Applicants for international protection, who due to lack of MEYSS First Reception places, cannot have emergency accommodation and must wait until the adjudication of a first-stage accommodation place for applicants for international protection.
  • Young people from countries such as Cameroon, Nigeria, Guinea Conakry, Senegal and Ivory Coast, who have entered by dinghy along the Spanish coast and who, when arriving in Madrid, despite being applicants for international protection, cannot be treated at the MEYSS First Reception, for having already received emergency refuge, and they stay in our program pending the award of first-stage accommodation for international protection applicants.
  • Young people from Afghanistan who have applied for international protection in some other EU country (Norway, Belgium, Italy), in some cases being minors and who after being denied their application for international protection and before the imminence of deportation to Country of origin decide to travel to Spain. These people cannot be treated at the First Reception of the Ministry of Labour, Migration and Social Security (henceforth MITRAMISS) and are housed in our program pending award of first-stage accommodation for applicants for international protection.
  • International protection applicants, who for having spent more than 2 years in Spain or in some EU country, cannot access the MITRAMISS social protection system (first phase accommodation, second phase financial aid) for applicants for international protection.
  • International protection applicants, who had not previously submitted an application in Spain and in application of the Dublin Regulation 604/2013 are transferred to Madrid, and they lack identification documentation so they cannot access First Place, remaining in our program, AML, until your access to first-stage accommodation.
  • International protection applicants, who had previously caused voluntary withdrawal in accommodation from MEYSS to travel to other EU countries and in application of Dublin Regulation 604/2013 are transferred to Madrid, and their re-entry into the system is not readmitted. These people remain in AML waiting for a place in a resource of Madrid city council attention network to immigrants and/or homeless.
  • People benefiting from voluntary return aid pending the processing of their trip back to their country of origin. The duration of this process will depend, among other issues, on the time of the year as organizations that work with voluntary returns try not to do them in high season in which the price of the ticket can double.
  • Migrant people derived by Social Samur, who, once housed, state that they do not intend to apply for international protection, are referred to resources of Madrid city council attention network for immigrants and/or homeless.
  • Migrant people, who can not access the MEYSS accommodation place, despite submitting international protection request in Spain, for having previously stayed more than 2 years in EU territory, also remain in AML waiting for a place in resource of Madrid city council attention network for immigrants and/or homeless.
  • People who finish the second phase of the social protection system in MEYSS, who are in a situation of social unprotection lacking housing and/or economic resources, waiting for a place in Madrid city council Attention network for immigrants and/or homeless, some of these cases being families with minors, whose only alternative is the APOI Project, which has a long waiting list.
  • Youth supervised in juvenile centers in Ceuta from where, when they reach the legal age, their transfer to the peninsula is facilitated, arriving in Madrid without resources or support network, and who are waiting for a place in a convivial resource for self-sufficient life training. These resources, whether from Madrid city council network or from different social NGOs that work with youth at risk of exclusion, have waiting lists longer than 6 months.
  • People with refusal of their international protection application, who file an appeal in the National Court at Madrid Adolfo Suarez Madrid-Barajas airport or the Asylum Office in Madrid, and which as a precautionary measure authorize their stay in Spain until their appeal are resolved. During this time, they cannot opt for the MITRAMISS social protection system.
  • International protection beneficiaries and/or applicants, who finish the first phase of the social protection system in MITRAMISS and are waiting for the mandatory financial aid to be able to start their self sufficient life or who having these grants find seriously difficulties in leasing a home due to lack of enough economic guarantees (employment contract).
  • Syrian-Spanish families repatriated from conflict zone.

During 2018, Interior Ministry rigorous application removed the priority reception, especially for families with minors, and it is established as the start date of the right to access at the first reception, once the Asylum application has been submitted. This means a delay of six months. For this reason, Madrid city council emergency services began to collapse, and specifically in reference to Mejía Lequerica Shelter.

Madrid City Council promoted measures to produce a coordinated response between relevant Ministries in the field (Ministry of Interior and Labour, Migration and Social Security Ministry (MITRAMISS), Autonomous Community of Madrid Authority and Madrid City Council. Fruit of these meetings has resulting establishment of the necessary coordination mechanisms to expedite appointments with Ministry Social Work, responsible and competent bodies for the social protection of asylum seekers, by assigning places housed Madrid City Council network.

Given the emergency situation created, as a result of the delay by the State to arrange appointments to people requesting international protection (asylum and refuge) and which entails the delay in allocation first reception places, during winter period in which city council resources for Cold Campaign are in maximum occupancy. It was necessary to temporarily reinforce these emergency resources, with two more center. One was for asylum-seeking families in Franco Rodriguez, with a capacity for 110 people that has been in operation from November 23th, 2018 until 30th June 2019 having welcomed 609 asylum seekers. And in January 2019 another emergency center is launched aimed at asylum seekers men alone waiting for social protection place for asylum seekers in the ministry (MITRAMISS). This center has a capacity of 120 people, and they have attended about 903 people so far this year.

Mejía Lequerica Shelter, with a capacity for 128 people, has served 6,561 mainly asylum seekers but also vulnerable migrants who have been left out of the asylum system for refugees. At this time the majority of people are of Latin American origin.Mainly from Venezuela, El Salvador and Colombia,with the intention to apply for asylum, unlike other times it is now with the desire to stay in our country, so expending resources for immigrants who continue trip to some European country has changed.