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Demonstration in Barcelona calls on Spanish state to receive more refugees

24.2.2017 12:03
A demonstration in favor of refugee reception in Barcelona, Spain, 2017. (PHOTO:  YouTube)
A demonstration in favor of refugee reception in Barcelona, Spain, 2017. (PHOTO: YouTube)

As many as 160 00 people demonstrated in Barcelona last Saturday in favor of more refugees being received by Spain as the authorities pledged to do in 2015. Left-wing Mayor Ada Colau called on the demonstrators to fill the streets in a march called "We Want to Welcome Them".

The avenue winding through Barcelona's Old Town was packed full of people. Several people carried banners reading "No more excuses, we welcome them now!"

The march was organized by the "My Home is Your Home" movement. Spain was supposed to receive roughly 16 000 asylum-seekers within the framework of refugee redistribution among the EU Member States, but so far has only received 1 100, according to Agence France-Presse (AFP).

A 62-year-old ceramics producer, Jacint Comelles, who attended the march with his family and friends, said he believes too little has been done for refugees in Europe and especially in Spain. "We are demanding at least a dignified minimum for the number of refugees who might come here," he said, assuring reporters that "all Catalans" are willing to receive refugees.

The event symbolically ended on the shore of the Mediterranean, where more than 5 000 refugees drowned last year. "We are victims of war. We want the dictator [Syrian President Bashar Assad] and the Islamic State organization, who are two sides of the same coin, out of Syria so we can return home," a Syrian refugee told those demonstrating, receiving applause.

On Wednesday the chair of the Barcelona municipal assembly, Merce Conesa, declared she was ashamed that Spani has received just a thousand refugees so far. She also called on the European Commission to begin strictly punishing states that do not fulfill their obligations in that regard.

Barcelona submitted a plan for Spain to receive refugees from Afghanistan, Eritrea, Iraq and Syria in August 2015. Colau expressed regret last year for how few refugees Spain had received and criticized the EU's response to the migration crisis during a visit to Brussels.

ČTK, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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