Spain willing to take in 450 refugees: minister

Updated: 2016-03-11 05:13


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Spain willing to take in 450 refugees: minister

People walk past Madrid's Town Hall, where a banner welcoming refugees is displayed, in Madrid, Spain, March 10, 2016. [Photo/Agencies]

MADRID -- Acting Spanish Minister for the Interior Jorge Fernandez Diaz confirmed on Thursday that the country was willing to take in 450 Syrian and Iraqi refugees from Italy, Greece and Turkey.

"We have told the European Commission of our willingness to proceed with the immediate relocation of over 250 people from Turkey in a first stage and of another 150 refugees from Greece and a further 50 from Italy," said Fernandez Diaz in declarations to the Spanish press in Brussels.

The Minister thanked the Turkish government for its help in dealing with the refugee crisis, saying that without that help, "we would not be in conditions to act efficiently against the criminal organizations which are trafficking in human beings."

Spain's national plan towards housing refugees envisages the country receiving 859 people in 2016, apart from the 450 announced by Fernandez Diaz on Thursday. Meanwhile the Spanish government has also accepted housing 9,400 refugees from among those who have asked for asylum in the European Union and a further 1,400 who are currently being housed in countries neighboring Syria.

Nevertheless, the minister warned Spain could "not drop its guard... We need to be prudent," he said, explaining that closing the route into Europe through the Balkans would see many refugees seek to enter Europe through the southern coast of the Mediterranean.