In the wake of Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau’s plan to register families who want to help refugees fleeing from war-torn countries such as Syria, other major cities in Spain have pledged to come up with similar schemes in order to be able to offer help for those most in need.
Nearly all provincial capitals in the country have said they are willing to sign up to a network of “refuge cities”
But the majority of the councils who have expressed their willingness to support those fleeing conflict have stated that the central government first needs to establish how many people they can receive and the resources they will be able to count on.
Cities such as Zaragoza, Pamplona, Valencia, Málaga and A Coruña have all said they will sign up to the initiative, which was first announced by Colau and soon after backed by Madrid Mayor Manuela Carmena.
The initiative adds to the pressure being heaped on Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who this week must decide how many refugees Spain can take in among the total being accepted by the European Union.
The scheme announced by Colau – a former evictions activist who came to power in the Catalan capital with the Barcelona en Comú platform in May – has had a domino effect in the rest of Spain, and nearly all provincial capitals in the country have said they are willing to sign up to a network of “refuge cities.”
Manuela Carmena, of leftist party Ahora Madrid, said on Wednesday that this week her council would be specifying the “resources and measures” needed to help deal with the refugee crisis playing out across Europe.
Colau’s original plan involved creating a register of families who wanted to help refugees, whether by donating material goods or by offering a place to stay.
Carmena and other mayors will meet this Friday with Colau to discuss the details.
Manuela Carmena’s council team has called on the central government to be “up to the task” at hand
Prime Minister Rajoy announced on Tuesday that he was willing to consider increasing the number of refugees that until now Spain had accepted (2,739). “We are willing to discuss the issue again,” he said. “It’s a position that can be modified.”
For its part, Manuela Carmena’s council team has called on the central government to be “up to the task” at hand, to assume its responsibilities and to coordinate the “necessary response with other regional and municipal administrations.”
With reporting by María Josep Serra, Txema Santana, Concha Montserrat, Raúl Limón, Esperanza Codina, Sonia Vizoso, Javier Doria and Mikel Ormazabal.
English version by Simon Hunter.