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Catalonia hosts half of the 20 refugees newly arrived in Spain

Three Syrian families, including 4 minors, make up the 10 refugees which will be relocated to Catalonia. They are part of a group of 20 people which arrived this Tuesday in Madrid. 44 more people, expected to arrive on the 30th of May, will follow this first group and 19 more will arrive on the 1st of June. 67 more are due to arrive in Spain by the end of June. In addition, 50 more refugees from Italy will begin to be hosted in Spain shortly, of which 18 are already in Spain as part of a pilot programme. In total, 586 people will be relocated to Spain by the end of June, according to the current Spanish Minister for Home Affairs, Jorge Fernández Díaz. Thus, Spain will become the fourth European country in terms of number of refugees hosted, but so far it only hosts 18 refugees of the 16,000 it has agreed to relocate. 

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24 May 2016 02:41 PM

by

ACN

Barcelona (CNA).- Half of the 20 refugees which arrived in Spain this Tuesday will be hosted in Catalonia. They are three Syrian families, including four 4 minors. The Catalan government hasn’t specified to where they will be relocated but confirmed that it will be in the Barcelona metropolitan area. In total, 586 people will be relocated to Spain by the end of June, according to the current Spanish Minister for Home Affairs, Jorge Fernández Díaz. Thus, Spain will become the fourth European country in terms of number of refugees hosted, welcoming 150 of the 1,683 who are in the process of being relocated. So far, Spain only hosts 18 refugees of the 16,000 it has agreed to relocate. In March, Catalan President Carles Puigdemont sent a letter to EU Commissioner for Migration, Dimitris Avramopoulos, to inform him that the Catalan government was “working to accommodate around 4,500 refugees” and expressed his will to “provide a solution”to this “humanitarian crisis”.


The 10 refugees will be hosted by the Catalan Commission for Refugee Assistance and will be relocated to two different villages in the Barcelona metropolitan area, which haven’t yet been specified by the government, in order to facilitate the process. This group of 3 Syrian families had been located in apartments in Athens for several months before travelling to Spain. 

They belong to a group of 20 refugees, to be added to the 18 that arrived in Spain last November as part of the 16,000 people which the Spanish government committed to relocating. Although nearly 600 refugees are expected to arrive in Spain by the end June, this will still be less than 5% of the total committed to. 

Thus, Spain will become the fourth European country in terms of number of refugees hosted, with 11.8% of the 1,683 people who are in the process of being relocated. The country which expects the highest number of refugees is France, followed by Finland and Portugal. 

Catalonia willing to host number of refugees beyond the Spanish quota

In March, President Puigdemont sent a letter to EU Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, Dimitris Avramopoulos, to inform him that the Catalan government was“working to accommodate around 4,500 refugees”. “Our government is coordinating an action plan to facilitate the accommodation of this amount of refugees and we are already prepared”, he added. In this vein, he emphasised that Catalonia was ready “to receive up to 1,800 refugees” in the whole of the territory in the immediate future “600 of whom would be hosted directly”by the government. Moreover, “Catalonia’s local governments and civil society are also leading several initiatives to facilitate the migrants’integration”, an integration which wants to ensure “fair access to healthcare, education and other basic social services”. 

According to Puigdemont “providing a solution for those millions of people running away from war is not only an international legal duty”but a “moral obligation”. In response, the Spanish executive accused Puigdemont of acting “unilaterally”and “adding more problems”to the existing situation. 

Barcelona’s agreement with Athens

Also in March, Barcelona’s Mayor, Ada Colau, announced that the Catalan capital was ready to host 100 refugees as the first stage of a collaboration programme with Athens. The agreement, which may be enhanced in the near future, aims to facilitate that some of the refugees living in camps in Athens be relocated in Barcelona.

“Both cities have already agreed on putting in place as many facilities as possible”to help relocate the refugees from Athens, stated Colau. “We want the State, which has the competences and the European funds, to make the most of us”, she added. Barcelona’s mayor criticised the Spanish government’s passivity regarding the refugees’hosting and noted that “hundreds of people”have arrived in Germany whereas “only 18”have done so in Spain. 

Athens’mayor, Giorgios Kaminis, celebrated the bilateral agreement with Barcelona and called for the rest of Europe’s “solidarity”to tackle the “humanitarian crisis”which thousands of refugees are facing when trying to escape from war and misery. Kaminis stressed that there are more than 50,000 refugees in Greece alone and that 900,000 have crossed the country during the last year, trying to reach Central Europe. “There is no space for populism nor demagogy regarding this issue”, he warned.

Besides this agreement, Colau also established collaboration with the Greek island of Lesbos and the Italian island Lampedusa, two of the islands which receive the highest number of refugees by sea. 

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  • Two members of the Catalan NGO 'Amb les teves mans' ('With your hands') during a trip to Pireaus, Greece (by ACN)

  • Two members of the Catalan NGO 'Amb les teves mans' ('With your hands') during a trip to Pireaus, Greece (by ACN)