UN agency wants Spain to get serious on refugees

Syrian refugees from Greece & Turkey arrive Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas airport. Photo: Interior Ministry
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• UNHCR says time for Spain to move from words to action on refugee crisis
• Spain has resettled just 687 of 17,337 refugees agreed under 2015 EU accord

A spokesperson in Spain for the United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR/ACNUR) has called on the new government led by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy of the conservative Partido Popular (PP) to “get serious” and move from mere words to meaningful action in addressing the refugee crisis and requests for political asylum from those fleeing violence in the Middle East and Africa.

María Jesús Vega, spokesperson for the UNHCR in Spain, told Radio Euskadi on Monday that Spain needs “to do much more and can do much more in the area of accepting” refugees and asylum seekers. Specifically, Vega said Spain needed to increase its acceptance of asylum petitions, noting that the country last year only agreed to consider 1 percent of the 1.2 million asylum petitions made by refugees to European Union countries.

According to the Spanish Committee for Refugee Aid (CEAR, Comisión Española de Ayuda al Refugiado), Spain has so far only accepted 4 percent of the 17,337 refugees the Rajoy government agreed to resettle under the terms of a 2015 agreement with the European Union and has until September 2017 to resettle an additional 16,650 refugees in Spanish territory.

Of the total 17,337 refugees, says CEAR, some 16,000 are expected to be resettled from camps in Ialy and Greece, with an additional 1,400 coming from Turkey, Lebanon and other countries.

► Read More in Spanish at La Vanguardia and Europa Press …

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