THE number of asylum requests received by Spain by the end of this year is expected to reach 18,000, more than three times the number dealt with last year, the Minister of the Interior has announced at Congress.
This figure, Minister Jorge Fernandez Diaz explained, does not include applications from Spain’s quota of assigned refugees within the EU’s relocation programme, meaning the total will actually be much higher.
Last year Spain dealt with just 5,941 requests; the highest figure since before the recession hit.
Of the total amount of applicants expected by the end of 2015, Fernandez Diaz explained, Syrian refugees will make more than half and 90 per cent of these will be placed at Melilla’s Asylum and Refuge Office on the Benin Enzar border.
So far this year, approximately 10,000 applications have been put in and dozens more come in every day, Fernandez Diaz said, leading the government to try and speed the process up to prepare for its assigned refugees.
Spain, the minister insisted, is ready to take the refugees in and is waiting for Italy and Greece, where most will be coming from, to follow the established transfer procedures.
While addressing Congress on the matter, Fernandez Diaz stressed the need to distinguish between political refugees and illegal immigrants, although both, he insisted, are human beings fleeing from problems, war in one case and hunger in the other.
Europe, he explained, has agreed that the two cases must be treated differently and while migrants must be returned to their countries of origin, political asylum seekers must be taken in and granted international protection.
Taking in refugees, the minister concluded, should not be seen as a problem, rather a chance of further development for the host countries.