HUFFINGTON POST
02/19/2017 05:20 pm ET

Barcelona Holds Huge Protest In Support Of Refugees

Spain has taken in just a fraction of the refugees it pledged to accept in 2015.

Protesters in Barcelona took to the street by the thousands Saturday to demand Spain’s conservative government accept more refugees from war-torn countries like Syria and Somalia. 

Protesters held banners reading “Volem Accolir” (“We welcome” in Catalan), while other signs translated into “Enough excuses! Welcome them now.”   

A woman holds a placard reading "We want to welcome" during a demonstration to demand to welcome refugees in Barcelona.
JOSEP LAGO via Getty Images
A woman holds a placard reading "We want to welcome" during a demonstration to demand to welcome refugees in Barcelona.

Barcelona police estimated 160,000 people participated, while march organizers said as many as 300,000 took part, the Associated Press reports. 

“There is an ample consensus in Catalonia to demand that the [government’s] commitments are upheld,” organizer Ruben Wagensberg told the AP. 

Activists demonstrate in support of refugees and the opening of borders, under the slogan in Barcelona on Saturday.
Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
Activists demonstrate in support of refugees and the opening of borders, under the slogan in Barcelona on Saturday.

Spain has faced pressure from its European Union neighbors over the past several years to take in more refugees. The country has thus far only accepted a fraction of the refugees it said in 2015 it would accept. 

It pledged to take in more than 17,300 refugees ― largely from Italian and Greek refugee camps ― by late 2017; so far it’s accepted just 1,100.

By contrast, Germany accepted 280,000 asylum seekers last year and 890,000 in 2015, according to Germany’s Ministry of the Interior. 

A woman holds a placard reading "We want to welcome" during a demonstration to demand to welcome refugees in Barcelona on&nbs
JOSEP LAGO via Getty Images
A woman holds a placard reading "We want to welcome" during a demonstration to demand to welcome refugees in Barcelona on Saturday.

“Think of us as a people, not as a crisis,” Meera Zaroor, a Syrian refugee in Spain, told Al Jazeera interviewers. “We are not a crisis and didn’t come here to steal people’s houses or their jobs. We came here for a secure place because Syria is not a safe place.” 

A woman marches in the pro-refugee demonstration in Barcelona on Saturday.
JOSEP LAGO via Getty Images
A woman marches in the pro-refugee demonstration in Barcelona on Saturday.
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