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Resettlement to Spain Resumes as nearly 140 Syrian Refugees Arrive from Lebanon with IOM Support

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IOM 2020 © IOM, Spanish authorities welcoming a Syrian family at Madrid Airport

**Madrid **– Nearly 140 Syrian refugees, including 53 children, arrived safely at Adolfo Suarez airport in Madrid yesterday (24 Sept) on a resettlement flight from Lebanon.

The flight carrying 138 people organised by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) under Spain’s national resettlement programme, marks the resumption of resettlement from Lebanon after movements were put on hold temporarily in March due to global mobility restrictions imposed due to COVID-19.

“We are thrilled the group has made it safely to Spain and take special pride in this operation, which was closely coordinated with the Spanish Government in a clear demonstration of upholding international commitments,” said Maria Jesús Herrera, Head of IOM’s Office in Spain.

“The fact that Spain and Lebanon have agreed to continue supporting safe pathways in difficult times shows a growing recognition of the importance of improving common and comprehensive migration governance tools such as resettlement programmes.”

IOM’s Head of Office in Lebanon Fawzi Alzioud, underlined the cooperation between governments, IOM and the its UN partners.

“The resumption of resettlement interventions and the humanitarian support of the host countries comes with great gratitude from IOM. We thank the Spanish government for their efficiency, effectiveness, and cooperation for receiving and hosting these vulnerable families,” he said.

“We also extend our sincere gratitude to the Lebanese Government, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) and all partner organizations for their superb collaboration and facilitation throughout the resettlement process.”

Earlier this year, Spain was among the first countries to consider and use “virtual selection missions” in Lebanon to identify refugees eligible for resettlement during a time of pandemic-related physical distancing restrictions.

Pre-departure activities are a key part of the programme. IOM in Lebanon helped to prepare the refugees’ early integration with pre-departure orientation sessions organized in line with physical distancing measures, as well as medical examinations – including PCR tests for COVID-19 – and subsequent care and logistical support. Four IOM staff were also aboard the flight to provide medical and operational escort services.

Upon arrival in Madrid, the refugees were welcomed by the IOM team in Spain, together with Spanish NGOs, UNHCR and national authorities. The Spanish NGOs are assisting the newly resettled refugees with their accommodation in different regions around the country. Social workers will support settlement into their new environment throughout the first 18 months, with a special focus on the first six months. They will also help the refugees access rights and medical care, while acquiring the tools for successful integration in Spain.

Resettlement remains a life-saving tool for many refugees. The temporary hold on resettlement travel—necessitated by disruptions and restrictions to international air travel caused by COVID-19 —delayed the departures of some 10,000 refugees to resettlement countries.

Throughout this period, IOM, UNHCR and partners continued to process and counsel refugees and resettled scores of emergency and urgent cases.

In 2020, 200 refugees have been resettled from Lebanon to Spain through Spain’s national resettlement programme, which is funded by the Spanish Ministry of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration, and implemented cooperation with UNHCR. The national programme also includes resettlement of refugees from Turkey and Egypt.

For more information please contact Oussama Elbaroudi, IOM Spain, Tel: +34 915 943 670, Email: ouelbaroudi@iom.int

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