President Armengol (left) and Fina Santiago (second left) during their visit to the hostel. | miquel a. ca

President Armengol and the minister for social services and co-operation, Fina Santiago, yesterday visited the hostel in Playa de Palma that is being adapted to receive refugees due to be allocated to the Balearics. They were looking at how work on the hostel is proceeding, but the government hasn't as yet received any formal notification from the national department for immigration and emigration requesting that the Balearics assist with the refugee effort. Nevertheless, the president pointed out that preparations were being made and that the Balearics would be acting in accordance with the management of the refugees by the state and Europe.

Armengol stressed that, from the outset, the regional government has been working on a plan to receive the refugees, set out by central government, and with the interior ministry on the accommodation, which will be handed over to the Cruz Roja (Red Cross) which will manage it. The hostel should be ready by the end of this month.

Santiago explained that the hostel is regional government property and has 53 places in 23 rooms which "could be increased with supplementary beds if this were to prove to be necessary". The cost of getting everything right is put at 60,000 euros. She pointed out that there are some small things which still need doing, such as installing furniture, and that the building would be closed until a formal request to receive refugees comes from central government.

In the first phase, people assigned to the Balearics will stay in the hostel for six to nine months. The Cruz Roja will make initial assessments of the needs of each individual. The second phase, which could take between 12 and 18 months, will involve moving refugees to publicly or privately owned apartments, and the process of integration will also be managed by the Cruz Roja.

By the third phase, two years after arrival, families will need to be able to act independently, something for which, the president noted, society will need to assist with in ensuring their integration.