Puigdemont to Brussels: Catalonia can take on 4,500 refugees

The president of the Generalitat has sent a letter to the Commissioner for Immigration, and the vice president of Spain has already responded: "An autonomous community wants to be the solution to the problem, and that’s not on".

Carles Puigdemont, president of the Generalitat, has sent a letter to Dimitris Avramopoulos, European Commissioner for Immigration, Interior, and Citizenship, to convey Catalonia´s willingness to receive refugees, according to a CNA report (Catalan News Agency).

In the letter, the president announces that the Generalitat and other Catalan institutions are working to take on approximately 4,500 refugees. "Right now we are prepared to receive up to 1,800 refugees throughout Catalonia, 600 of whom would be housed directly by the Catalan government", it says. "To provide a solution for these millions of people who are fleeing from the war is not only an international legal duty, but also a moral obligation for all of us", he argues.

The Spanish government, however, was not happy to hear of this move by the Generalitat, and vice president Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría responded immediately after the Friday’s cabinet meeting: "We attend the meeting by agreement of all parties. He [Puigdemont] can only add more difficulties. An autonomous community wants to be the solution to the problem, and that’s not on”.

Puigdemont reminded the Commissioner that "the European Union project aims to improve the lives of our citizens and is based on the values of solidarity, diversity, and democracy". The Catalan president explains in the letter that Raül Romeva, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Institutional Relations, and Transparency, is in charge of this question and is at the disposition of the Commissioner to "move forward in this matter".

Call for an EU response

Carles Puigdemont begins the letter, to which the CNA had access, by expressing his "deep concern" for the "serious humanitarian crisis", and stresses that the situation demands a "response from the EU that is determined, comprehensive, and long-term".

The president remarks that Catalonia has been "a welcoming land" for centuries, and also the birthplace of people who have had to seek refuge themselves, such as Pau Casals. Indeed, the president cited the musician from Vendrell to explain that Catalans are a people “that opposes war and the inhumanity of wars". "In addition, generations of people in Catalonia have had experiences of refugees in their families; our history is full of examples of this, and we simply cannot stand idly by, watching this tragedy unfold without taking action", he added.

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