Refugees trapped by U.S., EU limits on asylum, say NGOs

Family in refugee camp in Presevo, Serbia, awaits relocation. Photo: Alfredo Di Lolli / El Mundo
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• Oxfam Intermón, CEAR say Spain not doing enough to help stranded refugees
• Increased U.S., EU restrictions seen hitting Syrian refugees particularly hard

Spanish NGOs providing humanitarian relief and resettlement services to refugees from the war-torn Middle East and Africa have said that the implementation of anti-immigration measures by developed countries has blocked the relocation of thousands of refuges fleeing the violence.

According to Oxfam Intermón, the affiliate in Spain of the international development aid organisation Oxfam, restrictive policies being implemented by the U.S. and European governments are stranding tens of thousands of refugees, particularly Syrians. The organization noted that at least 78,000 Syrians displaced by the war in their country are stranded along the border between Syria and Jordan, with an estimated 640,000 Syrian civilians currently trapped in areas under siege by the government or warring factions in their country.

According to the Comisión Española de Ayuda al Refugiado (CEAR, Spanish Commission for Assistance to Refugees), the government of Spain granted full refugee status to just 355 applicants last year, only 3.5 percent of all asylum applications received by Spain in 2016. Those figures compared unfavorably with much higher rates in Germany and France, which granted full asylum to 41 percent and 21 percent of all asylum applicants during 2016, respectively.

Oxfam Intermón notes that of 16,000 refugees that the Spanish government pledged to resettle under a 2015 European-wide refugee resettlement agreement, Spain has so far approved and resettled in Spanish territory just 289 applicants , with no additional approvals or relocations of refugees having been processed by Spain in the past five months.

► Read More in Spanish at Europa Press and El Mundo …

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