Country: Spain

Refugees from across Africa and the Middle East are fleeing violence and persecution. According to UNHCR, more than 11,000 refugees have sought help in Spain since the beginning of 2021. Refugees from across Africa and the Middle East are fleeing violence and persecution. According to UNHCR, more than 11,000 refugees have sought help in Spain since the beginning of 2021.

Convoy of Hope responds to refugee crisis in Spain

“Living here is hell, but it’s still better than living in my country,” said Amandi.

Amandi is one of more than 8,000 refugees who recently swam from Morocco to Ceuta, Spain. While the government works to address the refugee crisis, many displaced individuals are struggling to find food and shelter. Convoy of Hope recently hosted a distribution to help these people fighting to make it through another day.

“When the masses swam over, we were all together celebrating my father’s birthday,” Lorena, a local Convoy of Hope partner, said. “The celebration quickly ended to see the news of people swimming. The helicopters hovered, and police waited for those who arrived at shore. They didn’t ask questions and arrested people. Some, desperate, even took their lives right there on the shore. They’d rather die a gruesome death at their own hands than be deported.”

Some refugees, like Amandi, were attempting to escape persecution. Others were in search of jobs or a new life free from economic turmoil. Whatever the reason, the crisis has grown. Now, both the people of Ceuta and the refugees who sought shelter there struggle each day.

Originally, Amandi came from Nigeria where he was persecuted for his beliefs. He later made his way to Morocco, and from there, swam to bordering Spain. Some who swam with Amandi drowned before they made it to Spanish soil; many others suffered from severe hypothermia and required immediate medical attention when they arrived.

“I remember waking up in the hospital,” Amandi said. “I was fortunate to get housing, but I live in a small room with 10 others.” Thousands of other refugees in Ceuta have no shelter and live among the rocks near the seashore. Others have created makeshift shelters in cemeteries.

“Together, they care for each other and find ways to survive,” said Mark-Anthony Licea, a Convoy of Hope Europe team member.

One of the cemetery camps served as the site for Convoy of Hope’s most recent distribution event. People were provided with food, hygiene kits, and other necessities.

Some refugees have been searching for a better life for years. Others swam the frigid Mediterranean waters in recent weeks. Regardless, Ceuta is overrun. As refugees and government officials work to resolve this crisis, Convoy of Hope will continue to provide.

Thank you for providing hope to those in desperate need during this crisis. You are helping to shape their futures.

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Community Relief Work Eases Hostility: Cesar’s Story

For more than 20 years, Convoy of Hope partner Cesar Gil has worked in Melilla, Spain. As one of only two land borders that the European Union shares with Africa, it represents a doorway for refugees looking for a better tomorrow.

Through relief distributions, Convoy of Hope partners with Cesar to provide help to refugees and migrants in need. But for more than a decade, Cesar and his team have endured shouts and slurs, thrown rocks, bombings, and vandalism at their church.

“Since day one, they started to throw rocks while we were inside the tent … every time, every day,” Cesar said.

Although many communities in Melilla and neighboring Morocco were grateful for the help, Cesar and his team couldn’t serve other immediate locations due to the threats and hostility leveled against them.

As the pandemic unfolded, people could no longer travel to neighboring communities. Unaccompanied minors and runaways had to create makeshift quarters in street sewers, tunnels, and caves. Unemployment levels and lack of food transcended the differences that previously existed between refugees and those who despised them.

“The pandemic came and nobody had jobs, nobody had really any work,” said Cesar. “Inside the houses, they live with four families. Imagine the pressure — four families in one house using one bathroom.”

These new regulations and travel restrictions made it difficult for Cesar’s team to continue their work the way they once did. Instead, they pivoted to serve people in more immediate communities who were struggling. Using the surplus of food parcels they had because of the new restrictions, they reentered aggressive communities in hopes that people would be more receptive in their time of need.

These gestures of kindness and consideration broke down the walls of hostility and paved a way for the conversations Cesar had been longing to have with this community.

“We just kept showing them love,” Cesar said. “We realized that the only thing we could do was love them.”

One border closing led to another being opened. Now, instead of hurled rocks and bombs, these neighbors greet each other with hand waves and blow kisses.

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