Spain to make ‘effort’ to take refugees, despite latest EU plan to return all new migrants to Turkey

First of 18 refugees accepted by Spain to date arrive in November to Madrid's Barajas airport. Photo; EFE
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• Spanish rights groups say EU-Turkey deal would violate UN refugees treaty •

While a new draft EU agreement with Turkey reached Monday but still pending approval in a special March 17-18 EU summit would result in the immediate return to Turkey of future migrants and refugees arriving from Turkey to Europe, it would not stop Spain from making “an effort” to accept a number of refugees already processed and awaiting transfer to Spain, according to Spanish President Mariano Rajoy.

In remarks to reporters following a meeting of EU leaders in Brussels on Monday, Rajoy did not specify whether the effort would include the acceptance of 450 refugees that his office had earlier told reporters were already processed and awaiting transfer to Spain from camps in Italy, Greece and Turkey. To date, only 18 of the 16,000 refugees Spain pledged to accept in an EU deal reached in September have arrived to the country.

According to Spanish refugee assistance and human rights groups, if approved the new EU-Turkey deal for immediate return of refuges would violate the UN’s 1951 Treaty on the Status of Refugees, which holds that asylum seekers may not be expelled from the territory of a UN member state until the applicant’s petition for asylum has been considered and resolved.

► Read More in Spanish at El Diario and …

► Read More in English at Reuters …

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