Spain has offered to take in 750 refugees of the 50,000 that the European Commission has asked member states to accept over the next two years directly from third countries such as Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and Libya, all of which are severely affected by migration pressures. According to EU sources quoted on Wednesday by Spanish media, so far 15 member states - including Spain, Italy, Belgium, France, Finland, Ireland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Sweden and the UK - have offered to host a total of 24,000 refugees.
In the new voluntary asylum program proposed on September 27, the EU announced a 500-million-euro aid package, equal to 10,000 euros per refugee taken in, to deal with third countries' resettlement costs.
States must indicate number by end of October
Member states have until the end of October to notify the European Commission of the number of migrants it is willing to take in. Brussels has asked for an extension of the relocation programs directly from the refugees' countries of origin. These would include countries from which central Mediterranean migration flows mainly derive - Libya, Niger, Chad, Sudan, Ethiopia and Egypt - but giving priority to Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan, which are suffering greater migration pressure.
Since the beginning of the year, a total of 109,685 migrants and refugees have arrived in Italy, 25 percent less than the same period last year, according to European Commission figures. The EU has also backed voluntary return their home countries for economic migrants stuck in Libya and neighboring countries through UNHCR and IOM.
Some 8,000 went back to their home countries this year from Libya thus far and an estimated 13,000 to 15,000 total may be doing so by the end of the year.
Spain pledged to take in 17,337 in 2015
In a previous agreement with the EU in 2015, Spain had pledged to host 17,337 refugees for asylum seekers relocation. However, as of the deadline at the end of September 2017, it had only taken in 1,980 people, 11 percent of the number agreed. On the request of the PSOE and Unidos Podemos parties, the Spanish parliament recently gave the government one year to take in 15,357 refugees that had been left out of the resettlement program. The lower house urged the government to also accept the latest proposal of the European Commission for the relocation of 50,000 migrants on the central Mediterranean route.