News Equality, Justice and Social Policies

The Basque Government celebrates the 1st meeting of municipalities for the international day of migrants with the recognition of five good inclusive practices in Zarautz

2022 December 18
  • Hundreds of people gathered today at Zarautz’s Modelo Aretoa for a big celebration with musical and dance performances
  • The awards were presented to different local initiatives related to integration, hospitality, childhood/adolescence, linguistics and care
  • The event, organised within the framework of the Basque Social Pact for Migration, will be held in a different location each year. Bilbao has taken over the baton for the 2023 edition.
  • Artolazabal: “It is clear that migrants, especially women, are among the most vulnerable groups in our society. To alleviate this harsh reality, the Basque Social Pact for Migration was born”
  • Mayor Xabier Txurruka stressed “the right of all people to seek a better life for ourselves and our families”


This morning, dozens of people gathered at the Modelo Aretoa in Zarautz to celebrate the International Migrants Day. The celebration, organised by the Basque Government to commemorate the event, is part of the commitments made by the Basque City Councils that are members of the Basque Social Forum for Migration, and was attended by the Minister for Equality, Justice and Social Policies, Beatriz Artolazabal, and the Mayor of Zarautz, Xabier Txurruka.

“We are going to have a day of celebrations today to mark International Migrants Day. Noone knows better than Basque citizens how hard it is to abandon your people in search of a better future,” Beatriz Artolazabal said at the beginning of her speech.

The minister referred to the latest Eustat report, which puts the number of foreign residents in the Basque Country at 186,000. “Whatever the reason that led you to leave your country, I sincerely hope that you have found your new home in the Basque Country,” she said.

In her speech, the minister referred to the “difficult” times experienced due to the pandemic and also to the conflict in Ukraine and its social and economic consequences.

“Just as we were beginning to catch our breath, the invasion of Ukraine came along to whip us up again, to shake us up and show us the harsh reality of war. We see it every day at the Irun border with people of sub-Saharan origin who try to cross the border, risking their lives in truly incredible ways,” she explained. She went on to recall that the Basque Country is “a committed and inclusive people” and has demonstrated this when a difficult situation has arisen, “whether it is a pandemic or a war”.

In this sense, the minister said that “it is clear that migrants, especially women, are among the most vulnerable groups in our society. For this reason, the Basque Social Pact for Migration was created in order to put in place measures to try to alleviate this harsh reality.” And she noted that “together with the third social sector and migrant organisations themselves, we have tried to mitigate the existing realities of inequality and vulnerability.”

On this point, Beatriz Artolazabal highlighted the work carried out by the Basque City Councils, of which around 130 are already members of the Basque Social Pact for Migration. “They are the protagonists of events such as today’s. Our City Councils have shown dedication, commitment, solidarity and, of course, imagination to pave the way for their new neighbours. And we want to reward good local practices. So today we are launching this initiative in Zarautz, which will be repeated year after year in each organising municipality.”

Artolazabal gave a brief overview of the contributions made by the Department of Equality, Justice and Social Policies to support the structure, training and projects of the municipal technical teams. “In 2022, we have allocated almost half a million euros to 33 municipal projects that promote a more diverse coexistence; and, in next year’s budgets, these programmes will be reinforced, as has the overall budget dedicated to our department with an increase of 60%.”

Finally, Amaia Arregi, Deputy Mayor of the City Council of Bilbao, and Itziar Urtasun, Councillor for Equality, Cooperation, Coexistence and Festivities, were called to the stage to take over the organisation of the 2nd Meeting of Municipalities for the International Migrants Day in 2023.

For his part, the Mayor of Zarautz, Xabier Txurruka, expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to hold the first edition of this meeting in Zarautz, recalling that this Basque town is “an increasingly diverse town, made up of people of different origins; this diversity, apart from being necessary and inevitable, is a richness that we must know how to manage in the best possible way”.

On the other hand, Txurruka made a plea in favour of “the right we all have to seek a better life for ourselves and for our families”.

Five recognitions

The day was a real party with music, dance performances and the awards ceremony. Hosted by the journalist Xabier Euzkitze and the actress and singer Nerea Gorriti, local emotion surfaced when the awards began to be handed out in the form of the jenga; the iconographic symbol of the Basque Social Pact for Migration.

Euzkitze began by calling to the stage the Zarauztik Mundura collective, awarded for its integration programmes in the municipality and in favour of cultural diversity. Yeni Rodríguez collected the award from the hands of the mayor, Xabier Txurruka.

The recognition award went to the municipality’s hotel and catering trade, which includes a large number of migrants. Martin Argiñano presented the award to Gustavo Cancino.

Linguistic inclusion was also recognised. Over the last few years, more than 300 people have been introduced to the basic knowledge of Basque, thanks to a welcome plan prepared by the Town Council. Moreover, 36 people of foreign origin are currently enrolled in the municipality’s euskaltegi, which represents 24% of enrolments. The jenga in this category was presented by the writer Andu Lertxundi and was collected by Angela Marte, as representative of the pupils.

Initiatives aimed at young people also received recognition. In this sense, Xabier Euzkitze himself presented the award to the Manzanares brothers Fabricio, Fernando and Jimmy, as members of this youth group active in the municipality.

The last prize was awarded to carers, mainly women, who look after the elderly and minors. Beatriz Artolazabal was in charge of presenting the award to Karina Purisaca, who accepted it on behalf of the whole group.

The event was entertained by the Zarazte Choir of Zarautz, the singer Olana Liss, the musicians Iñaki Dieguez, Eneko Dieguez and Bibiche, as well as the dantzaris Noemí Viana, Leire Otamendi, Deissane Espamba and Eneko Gil.

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Politicians attending the event
(XII term 2020 - 2024)