This new body’s Working Group has met this Monday for the first time, chaired by General Director of Cooperation and Development, Manel Vila. Representatives from different Departments in the Catalan Government, such as Territory and Sustainability; Health; Labour, Social Affairs and Family and Home Affairs have also attended the first meeting.
FA Catalan Minister Alfred Boschwelcomed the attendees, explained that historically “migration has played a key role in the Mediterranean”, and now is “a moral and political duty” to respond to it, given the state’s passivity.
However Bosch lamented Catalonia’s lack of competences in this field and pointed out that if it would be a State it will have more mechanisms to respond to this crisis.
He insisted that “there are still mechanisms available” to tackle the situation and “to do everything possible to stop the death toll in the Mediterranean.” Despite the Catalan Governments’ commitment to offer save harbours, Bosch lamented that some states have blocked rescue boats in the Mediterranean, preventing them from doing their task. “This is happening as we speak and we cannot remain silent”, he said.
Thus, and according to a proposal presented by Bosch in February, those harbours run by the Catalan Government will be available and safe for rescue boats to use them.
Although it is an initiative launched by the Foreign Action Department, other sections of the Catalan Government are involved in this Committee. The Department for Territory and Sustainability is the competent body for the Catalan Harbours competences; the Department for Home Affairs, is responsible for welcoming and hosting refugees; the Health Department will respond to the rescues medical needs and the Department for Labour, Social Affairs and Family is the competent body in terms of immigration.
Civil and institutional representatives will enhance the Working Group, such as members of the Catalan Federation of Municipalities or the Catalan Association of Municipalities, to name a few.
Those conforming this group will have to ensure that the conditions in these harbours meet the rescue boats’ requirements and provide the necessary aid to the people aboard.
Once the Spanish Authorities allow the disembarkment, the Committee is expected to supervise the welcoming process and work together with the Spanish competent body in order to deal with the potential asylum and stateless petitions.