Author: ROMINA MCGUINNESS
SPAIN’S Supreme Court has ordered Madrid to in more refugees after ruling it had failed to honour a 2015 commitment to accept at least 16,000 asylum seekers from Italy and Greece. Despite Spain’s decision to take in a migrant ship stranded at sea to “avoid a humanitarian disaster,” it is still failing to do enough to help resettle refugees, judges said
Judges said in a ruling pronounced on July 9: “More than six months after the deadline expired, a report by the Office for Asylum and Refugees recognises that Spain’s current track record with respect to its final obligations is below 13 per cent.”
While the court ordered Spain to “continue the procedure” to take in EU-bound refugees, it refrained from fining the government.
At the height of the migration crisis in late 2015, European leaders agreed to share out the 160,000 asylum seekers who had arrived in Italy and Greece within two years in an effort to alleviate the pressure on the two frontline states. Spain pledged to take in some 16,000 migrants.
Scores of migrants to leave Italy and Greece of their own accord rather than wait to be transferred to another EU member state.
As a result, a growing number of migrants crossing the Mediterranean are now entering Europe via Spain rather than Italy or Greece.
With some 15,426 migrant arrivals since the start of 2018, Spain has already overtaken Greece and is set to catch up with Italy, according to the International Organisation for Migration.
Last month, Spain’s new socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said it would give “safe harbour” to a rescue vessel carrying 630 migrants after it was turned away by both Italy and Malta to avoid a “humanitarian catastrophe”.
Mr Sanchez said: “It is out duty to help avoid a humanitarian catastrophe and offer a safe port to these people, to comply with our human rights obligations.”
The Aquarius rescue ship sparked a major diplomatic row between EU leaders after it was left stranded in the Mediterranean after Italy’s new populist government made good on its promise to crack down on illegal immigration and refused to let it dock at one of its ports.
The country’s new Interior Minister, Matteo Salvini, argued it was unfair that countries on the frontline of the EU had been left to cope with the EU’s immigration burden alone.
EU leaders have since agreed to share out refugees arriving in the bloc on a voluntary basis and create “controlled centres” inside the EU to process asylum requests.