The Spanish cities of Madrid and Barcelona announced Tuesday they will be joining a network of cities – including Cataluna, Zaragoza and others governed by the left – which have publicly offered to host thousands of refugees who have entered Europe from the Middle East.
The network has been built through the agreement of the local governing left coalitions, which regard the refugee crisis as an urgent matter which can be solved through solidarity.
Despite avoiding the issue, President Mariano Rajoy committed on Tuesday, during a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, to negotiate the number of refugees his country would receive. Furthermore, and as the network of cities have pointed out, the central government has failed to provide enough funding to guarantee basic social services to this neglected population.
“The central government must urgently fulfill its legal obligations, providing relief to people that are fleeing war,” demanded the local government of Madrid in a statement.
The Spanish cities have announced that they are working on a plan to raise enough funds for hosting the victims of war-ridden countries.
The local government of Barcelona, for example, has drafted a registry of families and individuals who are willing to host refugees, and will facilitate the necessary paperwork for these people.
However, local governments are urging the central government – headed by the right-wing Popular Party – to help facilitate the paperwork necessary at a national level for the entry of these migrants.
Although Brussels has requested Spain receive 5,849 refugees, the Spanish government has argued that it cannot handle such an influx and has only agreed to admit 2,749 – less than half.
An estimated 300,000 refugees, most of them fleeing wars in Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, are entering Europe, creating an unprecedented crisis.
Rajoy said he would negotiate a possible increase on the number of refugees based on Spain's gross domestic product and unemployment rate.