Zaragoza City Council is going to create a fund of 1.5 million euros to deal with the economic consequences that the war in Ukraine is going to have on municipal services, both from the social point of view, in terms of humanitarian aid and refugeessuch as from the point of view of the increase in electricity costs or the increase in the CPI.
It was announced this Thursday by the mayor of Zaragoza, Jorge Azcón, at the House of Cultures, after meeting with two Ukrainian families who have arrived in the Aragonese capital fleeing the Russian military invasion.
“The war is going to have consequences for solidarity, but also for the economy. For this reason, I have spoken with the Minister of the Treasury to create this fund, which will serve for all the contingencies that are going to occur from now on, which It will have to do with an avalanche of refugees and consequences related to daily life: The rise in the price of electricity“, among others, Azcón pointed out.
In this sense, the mayor has stressed that Zaragoza is going to do “everything in its power” to attend to these people who “come from such an important drama”. “We have to prepare ourselves for what is going to come to all the countries of the European Union” and a first step, according to Azcón, is collaboration between institutions: “We are all going to have to have a plan as coordinated as possible so that they have the best arrival and we make it as easy as possible for them.”
The mayor of Zaragoza has recalled that since Consistory several actions have already been launched in support of the Ukrainian peoplesuch as the provision of eight municipal flats to welcome the Ukrainian population – the two families who met the mayor this Thursday reside in two of them.
Likewise, the convening of the Emergency Committee has been requested so that “we all say the contributions that we are going to put on the table,” said Azcón, as well as the suspension of the performance of the Russian Ballet at the Teatro Principal. A solidarity gala is also going to be planned, which is yet to be defined, so that “the people of Zaragoza can once again demonstrate their solidarity” and raise funds, he has added.
Zaragoza City Council, through the Casa de las Culturas, has attended in recent weeks to seven Ukrainian families who have arrived in the Aragonese capital fleeing the war. Some did it in the days before the invasion and others during the first days of bombing by Russia.
All of them are receiving comprehensive care, framed in the Municipal Welcome Program, with the aim of facilitating their integration into the city, with social and psychological support, an interpreter service, Spanish classes, legal advice, and temporary accommodation in cases where it is needed.
Jorge Azcón has expressed his commitment to welcoming the Ukrainian population, for which the City Council has made eight municipal flats available. In one of them live two Ukrainian families who have met him at the House of Cultures, accompanied by the president of the Association of Ukrainians Resident in Aragon, Alina Klochko.
In both cases, they have invested their savings in the trip to Spain, before the perception of the outbreak of the war, and they are being taken care of by the municipal social services.
Sergio fled with his family from the Ukraine ten days before the war began because they saw how the soldiers were approaching, since their city is on the border with Russia: “They have welcomed us very well in Zaragoza, we are very grateful, because we are very comfortable. It sounds like a joke, but we went here because we searched on Facebook and it said that there were good people in Zaragoza, that they welcome very well and that’s why we came”.
He has said that he has been able to contact his family, who has stayed in the country, by calls and the internet, but now they are hidden in basements and “they cannot leave there or the city because it is surrounded by the Russians and today the connection it has been cut”.
On the other hand, Sergio came to Zaragoza in October. He is a military man, and “now he would have to be recruited in the Army there, but my wife is very sick and I have to take care of her”. For this reason, they moved to the Aragonese capital, in search of doctors who could attend to her. He has also shown his gratitude to the House of Cultures for all the help they are receiving.
The president of the Association of Ukrainian Residents in Aragon, Alina Klochko, thanked all the massive donations that citizens are making and explained that they maintain contact with the Embassy of their country, which informs them of what foods or products are most necessary: “Clothes are needed for the military, and medicines, but if the cities are devastated there is nothing, and they also need food, everything”.
Both the host families and Klochko have claimed that this conflict is “a real war”, where nurseries, health centers, houses, shops are being bombed. “It’s not a Russian operation, it’s normal warfare. Buildings can be rebuilt, but deceased lives cannot.”
Ukrainian refugees in Zaragoza
Since 2018, Zaragoza has housed 317 asylum seekers in temporary housing, of which 115 are Ukrainian. During 2019, Zaragoza City Council housed 190 people through the Municipal Welcome Program. Of these, there were 44 families with minors, making a total of 153 people, and 37 individual people. Ukraine was the majority country, followed by Venezuela, El Salvador and Georgia.
During 2020, 27 families were housed, with a total of 92 people accommodated, of which 37 were minors. In 2021, 21 families were housed, made up of 60 people in total, of which 31 were adults and 29 children.