Madrid, April 21 (IANS) Spain will house 200 Syrian refugees at the start of May, acting Interior Minister Jorge Fernandez Diaz said on Thursday.
In declarations published on the website of Spanish state broadcaster, RTVE, Fernandez Diaz said 50 of the refugees would come from camps in Italy and a further 150 from Greece, Xinhua news agency reported.
The minister refused to give an exact date for their arrival, but said it would be “in the first days of May”.
The news comes a week after Spain had been criticised for the country’s slowness in accepting refugees after agreeing in September 2015 to take in 15,000 refugees under the EU distribution plan.
So far, just 18 refugees have been housed in Spain with none arriving in the first four months of 2016, despite the government saying it would take in 467 by the end of March.
This led the United Nations Refugee Agency, UNHCR, to criticise Spain’s efforts with UNHCR representative Francesca Friz-Prguda saying that although the country had “all of the necessary conditions in order to increase its numbers”, it had to “assume a greater responsibility and commitment”.
Fernandez Diaz insisted that Spain was still carrying out the necessary security controls before it could welcome more refugees and required the relevant paperwork from Italian and Greek authorities.