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The University of Barcelona presents some measures to support Syrian refugees

The rector of the University of Barcelona, Dídac Ramírez, and the PhD student Shifa Mathbout.

The rector of the University of Barcelona, Dídac Ramírez, and the PhD student Shifa Mathbout.

The director of the UB Solidarity Foundation, Xavier López, the rector of the University of Barcelona, Dídac Ramírez, and the student Shifa Mathbout.

The director of the UB Solidarity Foundation, Xavier López, the rector of the University of Barcelona, Dídac Ramírez, and the student Shifa Mathbout.

A moment during the presentation of the measures to support Syrian refugees.

A moment during the presentation of the measures to support Syrian refugees.

17/09/2015

Institucional

The University of Barcelona (UB) has set up a refugee support programme that includes some measures to help those fleeing from Syria's brutal civil war. The University estimates that the programme can take in one hundred refugees, help them to settle in Catalonia and enable them to continue their university studies in Barcelona. The programme comes from University's cooperation and solidarity basis and strengthens cooperation actions that the University develops together with Arab countries. The programme is supported by other institutions and associations, like the Barcelona City Council and the Catalan Association for Solidarity and Assistance of Refugees (ACSAR).

Today’s morning, on a press conference, the rector of the University of Barcelona, Dídac Ramírez, announced that the programme will cost about half million euros. Part of it will be funded by public administrations. “Actions are transversal and they will be develop both in origin —in the countries that are receiving a high number of refugees— and in destination, in Barcelona and its metropolitan area”, says the Rector. Shifa Mathbout, Syrian student at the UB, described her personal experience on the press conference. Shifa arrived in 2012 to Barcelona, where she continued her doctoral studies in climatology at the Faculty of Geography and History. Now, she is about to start a post-doctoral stay at the Faculty of Physics. On her speech, she thanked the University, her partners and lecturers and Catalan society for their support.  

The first measure that has been taken is the creation of a coordination unit, led by Xavier López, director of the UB Solidarity Foundation and expert on international cooperation and victim support. The main goal of the unit is to integrate every action aimed at supporting Syrian refugees.

The second measure that has been taken is the creation of a crowdfunding website that will allow Syrian students affording study-derived costs, for example book purchase.

 

Actions developed in destination (Barcelona)

First, the University of Barcelona will offer 20 rent-free apartments; some of them are located in the Torre Baró Apartment Building and others at University's halls of residence.

Refugees who want to continue their university studies will receive a scholarship that covers full tuition fees. In the case of undergraduate students, the University will facilitate academic records transfers; in the case of master's and doctoral students, they will be able to study at the UB a programme similar to the one they were doing in their home country.

Moreover, Syrian students at the UB will receive support to adapt themselves to Catalan society. They will be offered the possibility to attend free 40-hour courses of culture and language (Catalan and Spanish). UB Alumni and UB Volunteering will coordinate student collaboration (former and present UB students) in mentoring programmes.

The services of the University of Barcelona are also at the disposal of refugees. Students will be given legal advice on procedures for granting refugee status, thanks to the support provided by the project The Right to Right. Experts of the Psychological Clinic of the UB will look after those people who need psychological support, both adults and children. The Dental Hospital of the UB will offer dental care to every refugee who needs it.

 

Actions developed in origin

Within the European Observatory on Memories, the UB Solidarity Foundation, together with local universities and associations, is developing actions in countries like Hungary and Serbia in order to palliate the difficult circumstances that refugees are living in these countries.

Besides humanitarian aid, UB cooperation with Arab countries includes tasks of coordination to strengthen collaboration in academic and research matters. In this sense, the UB participates in the projects Avempace within the EU programme Erasmus Mundus. This academic year, three Syrian postgraduate students are studying at the UB.

The University of Barcelona has promoted the creation and development of the Arab-Euro Conference of Higher Education, a link between the Association of Arab Universities (AARU) and the European University Association (EUA). The third edition of AECHE, which takes place next year, will include some sessions devoted to refugees. AECHE will work to set up projects that can be funded by the Madad Fund, EU funds to meet Syrian crisis.

 

Other actions

The University of Barcelona will promote a volunteering programme to send resources to refugee camps. Moreover, it will organise different activities to inform about this humanitarian crisis, for example the round-table talk "La crisi dels refugiats a debat: en el dret d’asil i l’acollida" (Discussion on refugee crisis: right of asylum and reception), which takes place on 22 September at the Humanities and Social Sciences Park.

The University of Barcelona is committed to participate and collaborate in any other programme led by the Barcelona City Council, ACSAR or any other association.

In the 90s, the UB signed two agreements with ACSAR to support those students who fled from Balkan Wars. Data provided by the UB Solidarity Foundation indicate that, from the onset of the armed conflict in Syria in 2012, about 250,000 people have died, half million people have been injured, and half of the 22 million people living in the country have been forced to leave their homes. It is estimated that more than 4 million people have left Syria.

 

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