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Rajoy says Spain will take in 450 Syrian refugees
ACTING president Mariano Rajoy has offered to take 450 Syrian refugees to be resettled in Spain.
Of these, 285 will come from refugee camps in Turkey, and the rest from Greece and Italy.
The figure is a long way from the 17,000 Spain agreed to take in during the November EU summit – and so far, only 18 have arrived in the country.
Rajoy has also promised €152.8 million for Turkey, which has requested €3 billion from the EU to deal with the huge numbers of war refugees already in its territory after having crossed the land border from Syria.
The PP leader says he will make this offer official aty the forthcoming EU leaders' meeting in which presidents and prime ministers from the 28 member States will discuss the refugee crisis with Turkish PM, Ahmet Davutoglu.
The meeting will involve working on an action plan to rehouse and distribute those fleeing war zones, as well as dealing with non-refugees travelling by boat via Turkey, Greece and the Balkans to get into Europe.
Spain has already informed the European Commission it is taking the necessary steps to resettle the 285 refugees coming from Turkey in the near future, which will be followed up with a plan for taking those from Italy and Greece.
Human and material resources will be supplied to Greece from Spain to help them look after the refugees currently in the country.
In his capacity as acting president, Rajoy will represent Spain in an informal meeting, following the refugee summit, concerning the future of the Schengen zone.
The passport-free area of the European Union – which includes Spain but not the UK – is under threat after some member countries began to apply border controls in light of the refugee crisis and the terrorist attacks in Paris.
Schengen countries have worked out the losses potentially caused if the open-border zone agreement ends would run into tens of millions of euros – particularly for countries with workers from neighbouring member States who commute rather than migrate.
France has agreed to take fewer than a third of Spain's agreed number of refugees – just 148 – but its foreign minister Bernard Cazeneuve defended this decision by pointing out that his country takes in over 80,000 asylum-seekers a year, 'far more than the UK, for example'.
Criticised for shutting down the Calais migrant camp, Cazeneuve says those staying in tents near the Channel Tunnel entrance were living in ankle-deep mud, suffering from extreme cold, and being beaten and threatened by human traffickers, many of whom had given them false promises of helping them into the UK via the back door.
Cazeneuve says France is working on resettling the campers in asylum-seeker centres of bricks and mortar with proper beds.
The photograph shows the first few Syrian refugees arriving in Spain at the end of last year.
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