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European Commission plans to ask Spain to take at least 15,000 refugees fleeing to Europe

  • Sept. 1, 2015 - Syrian migrants disembark from boat at Athens port of Piraeus. About 1800 refugees arrived from the northeastern Aegean island of Lesbos as the country has been overwhelmed by record numbers of migrants this year. The vast majority are from Syria & Afghanistan trying to reach more prosperous European countries.

    Sept. 1, 2015 - Syrian migrants disembark from boat at Athens port of Piraeus. About 1800 refugees arrived from the northeastern Aegean island of Lesbos as the country has been overwhelmed by record numbers of migrants this year. The vast majority are from Syria & Afghanistan trying to reach more prosperous European countries.  (AP)

  • Sept. 5, 2015: Refugees arrive at the train station in Saalfeld, central Germany. Hundreds of refugees arrived in a train from Munich to be transported by buses to an accommodation center.

    Sept. 5, 2015: Refugees arrive at the train station in Saalfeld, central Germany. Hundreds of refugees arrived in a train from Munich to be transported by buses to an accommodation center.  (AP)

The European Commission plans to urge Spain to accept at least 15,000 refugees who entered Europe via Hungary, Italy and Greece, according to EFE.

That would amount to roughly 12 percent of the 120,000 people whom the European Commission is proposing to distribute for settlement among the member states, EFE reported.

This new group is more than three times larger than what Brussels had asked Spain to accept in May, when it requested that Madrid take in 4,288 refugees of the 40,000 who were to be divided among the 28 European member states, or 10.72 percent of the then-total.

Spain eventually offered in July to only accept 1,300 refugees over the next two years, less than a third of the number had been requested by the Commission, although it did not rule out increasing that figure in December.

Meanwhile, France announced on Monday its readiness to receive about 24,000 refugees over the next two years, as part of the European Commission's quota system to relocate the refugees among the EU member states.

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In a press conference in the Elysee Palace, French President Francois Hollande said that the current situation "will be controlled."

The president proposed holding an international conference on refugees in Paris, stressing the need to establish centers in countries of origin and transit to prevent this "human crisis."

British Prime Minister David Cameron said that the U.K. will re-settle up to 20,000 Syrian refugees from camps in Turkey, Jordan and Syria over the next five years.

The figure represents a vast expansion of Britain's refugee program, a change signaled by Cameron last week.

The worsening of the refugee crisis in the Mediterranean and the inclusion of Hungary among the countries that will benefit from the measures to alleviate the crisis are the main reasons that an allotment increase has been called for.

"We're using the same distribution key that was in the proposal for Italy and Greece, but evidently, since the new proposal also includes Hungary, the figures for all the other member states will rise," the sources said.

Nevertheless, they said that "the figures for Spain continue to be half of what France and Germany will have to accept."

The EC in May proposed a temporary system of obligatory distribution of refugees for the 40,000 people who had arrived in Italy and Greece since April 15, a system based on four criteria - population, GDP, unemployment and previous efforts to take in foreigners - according to which it was concluded that Spain could accept 10.72 percent of the total.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy came out forcefully against the so-called "obligatory quotas," calling the criteria used in determining the allotment of refugees unfair because they did not take sufficient account of Spain's high level of unemployment or the number of refugees the country had already taken in.

Brussels decided to maintain the criteria for the earlier proposal although it did slightly modify the method whereby earlier efforts to take in refugees by member states were factored in, community officials said.

Also on Monday, the Associated Press cited Spanish media as saying that police fired rubber bullets at migrants in a detention center in the southern city of Valencia after about 50 tried to escape.

Media including the leading El Pais and El Mundo newspapers say the disturbance started late Sunday night when a guard was assaulted and migrants took his keys. Reports say some went on to the roof of the building and threw stones and branches at guards while others burned mattresses in an outdoor area of the center.

Authorities responded with rubber bullets and put down the disturbance about two hours after it started.

Spanish media say most migrants at the Valencia detention center are from sub-Saharan Africa.

Based on reporting by EFE and the Associated Press.

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