IOM, UNHCR Welcome Spain's Expedited Resettlement of Syrian Refugees from Türkiye in Earthquake Aftermath

Syrian families departing from Türkiye to Spain. Photo: Begüm Basaran/IOM 2023  

Geneva - In an expedited refugee resettlement departure following the devastating earthquakes which struck Türkiye and Syria last month, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) today welcomed a group of 89 Syrian refugees at Torrejón military airport in Madrid.  

The group, comprising at-risk women, men and children, arrived from Türkiye, where they had been residing, including in areas affected by the recent earthquakes. Upon arrival in Madrid, they will be registered and documented as refugees recognized in Spain by the Ministry of Interior and provided with medical and psycho-social assistance. The refugees will be further accommodated in different refugee reception centres run by Spanish NGOs under a programme managed by the Ministry of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration. 

For almost 12 years, Türkiye has generously hosted some 3.5 million Syrian refugees as well as those of other nationalities.  With the recent earthquakes impacting 11 regions, an estimated 9 million people have been affected - more than 1.7 million of whom are refugees.

Many refugees who fled to Türkiye in search of safety and protection have now faced the trauma of loss and displacement once again - losing their homes and livelihoods. With most refugees living in urban areas, many are living in fear and uncertainty, as aftershocks and additional earthquakes continue to ravage the area.  

While urgent lifesaving support is being prioritized by UNHCR and IOM to victims of the earthquakes – refugees, migrants and local communities - and in support of the national response, the agencies urge that more needs to be done. 

“To help protect those refugees most at-risk, and to help alleviate pressures on local communities who themselves are also impacted by this humanitarian disaster, UNHCR is appealing for States to expedite resettlement processes and departures,” said Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees. 

“UNHCR is grateful that Spain together with other resettlement countries has responded to this call for solidarity with Türkiye. But with many more refugees affected by the disaster and in dire need of assistance, we urge more States to step up and speed up processes, enabling quick departures from Türkiye. This is a tangible expression of solidarity and responsibility sharing and ultimately will ensure immediate, life-changing solutions for refugees who have been made even more vulnerable as a result of the earthquakes”, said Grandi. 

"We thank the Government of Spain for stepping up to provide a safe pathway for these refugees in the wake of disaster, giving them a chance to build new lives. We hope to see these efforts replicated swiftly,” said IOM Director General António Vitorino. 

“IOM is proud to have been part of this process of care. We believe that resettlement provides not only much needed international protection for the most vulnerable, but also a path to successful integration into their new societies."  

UNHCR and IOM are grateful to Spain for urgently responding to UNHCR’s request in expediting resettlement of refugees affected by the earthquakes. Spain has already welcomed over 200 refugees through resettlement since the beginning of the year and has been receiving refugees under resettlement programmes since 2013, mainly from Lebanon and Türkiye. 

For More information please contact: 



In Spain:  Jesús Diaz, +34 671 207 209 

In Brussels: Ryan Schroeder, + 32 492 25 02 34 

In Türkiye: Olga Borzenkova, +905397927867  

In Vienna: Joe Lowry, +436693776404      

In Geneva: Safa Msehli, +41794035526 



In Madrid, Maria Jesus Vega,, +34 670 661 263 

In Türkiye, Selin Unal,, +90 530 2827862 

In Geneva (Europe regional), Louise Donovan, +41 792173058 

In Geneva, Shabia Mantoo,, +41 79 337 7650 

In New York, Kathryn Mahoney,, +1 347 574 6552