BARCELONA, Spain (AP) – Thousands of protesters marched Saturday in Barcelona to demand that Spain’s conservative-led government increase its efforts to take in refugees from war-torn countries like Syria.
Spain has taken in just 1,100 refugees of the over 17,000 it has pledged to accept.
Marchers held a large banner and signs with the slogan “Enough Excuses! Take Them In Now!” as they made their way through the city center to the Mediterranean coast.
In Sept. 2015, Spain’s government pledged to bring 17,337 refugees in within two years: 15,888 from camps in Italy and Greece and 1,449 from Turkey and Libya.
A group of 66 refugees- 65 Syrians and one Iraqi- who arrived in Madrid on Thursday raised the total number of refugees Spain has taken in to just 1,100.
Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau joined the march. Colau, a former anti-eviction activist, has pushed Spain’s government to let her city accept more refugees. She also criticized the federal government’s stance toward refugees in December at a Vatican conference on Europe’s refugee crisis.
In contrast with Spain, fellow European Union member Germany took in 890,000 asylum-seekers in 2015 and another 280,000 in 2016. Germany decided last year on more than 695,000 asylum applications. Nearly 60 percent of the applicants were granted either full refugee status or a lesser form of protection.