Spain's Valencia to welcome migrants in days

Jun 15, 2018, 01:05
Spain's Valencia to welcome migrants in days

The ship, with 123 unaccompanied minors, 11 other children and seven pregnant women aboard, is waiting in worldwide waters between Italy and Malta, which has also refused to take them in.

MSF called for a swift end to the crisis and a safe port in which to disembark the migrants.

Salvini's comments came after another spat with Malta following its reported refusal to come to the aid of another rescue ship Seefuchs, which was stranded with 126 migrants on board due to violent seas until it was allowed to dock in the Sicilian port of Pozzallo on Saturday.

The migrants were picked up off the Libyan coast at the weekend and were packed onto the Aquarius which is operated by the charities SOS Mediterranee and Medecins san Frontieres.

The statement addresses "It is our obligation to help to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe and to offer a safe port to these people".

Maltese premier Joseph Muscat accused Italy of violating global norms governing sea rescues and said its stance risked "creating a unsafe situation for all those involved".

Fresh water and food were running low aboard the vessel by Monday afternoon and fresh supplies had to be brought from Italy and Malta. "This is a European issue".

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Local media have been suggesting that by instructing Acquarius to stand by its current position in deep waters, new Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, who had been criticising NGOs for carrying out the role of taxis for migrants, has started implementing anti-migrant policies.

The ship said it had been ordered by Italy's coast guard coordination center late Sunday to remain 35 miles off Italy and 27 miles from Malta.

Italy's Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said his country had "asked for a gesture of solidarity from Europe and this gesture has been made".

Medicins Sans Frontiers said: "This plan would mean to people already exhausted to spend four more days on the sea".

Migrants aboard SOS Mediterranee's Aquarius ship after being rescued in the Mediterranean Sea, in a photo released by by French NGO "SOS Mediterranee", on June 11, 2018.

"Starting today, Italy, too, begins to say NO to the trafficking of human beings, NO to the business of clandestine immigration", Salvini tweeted Sunday.

The Aquarius said it had received no instructions yet to head to Spain.

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The regional leader of Spain's Basque Country, Inigo Urkullu, said the region was prepared to take care of 10 percent of the passengers.

"Turning this into a political weapon is despicable.it is clear that Europe must act more wisely, but we can not let these people die at sea".

While Spain's announcement demonstrates humanitarian and moral leadership, the Italian government's actions are a clear reminder of the ways in which political hostility towards refugees and migrants puts lives at risk.

European Union law requires asylum seekers to register in the first safe country they reach, but frontline countries such as Italy and Malta say the burden needs to be shared out across the bloc.

"If anyone thinks I won't move a muscle while we have another summer of landings, landings and more landings, well that's not what I'm going to do", Salvini told reporters.

Since 2015, thousands of people have fled war and poverty in the Middle East, Africa and Asia with Italy and Greece being the main entry points to Europe.

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