Migrant ship finally sets sail to safe port in Spain

13 June, 2018, 21:04 | Author: Myra Gill
  • Migrants wait to disembark from the rescue ship Aquarius in the Sicilian harbor of Catania Italy on May 27. This past weekend the ship picked up more migrants but was turned away from ports in Sicily and the nearby country of Malta. Now it will head

The migrants were rescued in six separate night-time operations in the central Mediterranean on Saturday.

A Maltese government spokesman told AFP that the rescue of the migrants took place in the Libyan search and rescue area and was headed up by the rescue coordination centre in Rome, meaning Malta has no legal obligation to take in the migrants.

On Sunday, Italy refused the Aquarius permission to enter a port of refuge to offload the migrants.

The row has triggered worldwide concern about the migrants' plight.

Salvini tweeted "VICTORY" after the two days of confrontation with Malta over the migrants ended with Spain's offer of help.

Many Spanish regions and cities have offered to provide long-term support to the migrants, said Valencia's regional vice president, Monica Oltra.

SOS Mediterranee director general Sophie Beau said Spain's offer "is encouraging and shows that some states are sensitive to the humanitarian emergency". Through the first five months of 2018, a total of 27,482 migrants reached European shores, with 7,614 of them arriving in Spain.

Spanish journalists on board the rescue vessel have reported the increasingly desperate plight of the migrants over the past 24 hours.

The Aquarius ship at sea.

While thanking Spain for their offer of help, the Maltese Prime minister said Italy had broken worldwide rules and that there was a need to sit down with European partners to avoid an incident like this from happening again.

"What does global law say?"


"This Europe is not showing solidarity", Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said, adding that "Italy has to deal with the problem" of illegal human trafficking and migration flows "all by itself".

A French NGO's rescue ship, the Aquarius, was waiting for a port to dock at on Monday as a diplomatic standoff played out over where it should go next.

The EU and the bloc's biggest member state Germany made similar pleas.

However, the European Commission, "anxious to avoid feeding the new Italian government's anti-EU narrative, took a softer line" reports The Guardian, "calling on Italy and Malta to consider the humanitarian needs of those on board but insisting the matter was outside its control".

Salvini refused to back down.

"Evidently it pays to raise one's voice, something Italy hasn't done as long as one can remember", Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, the League's leader, said Monday at party headquarters. "My goal is to guarantee a peaceful life for these children in Africa and for our children in Italy", Salvini tweeted Sunday using the hashtag "We are shutting the ports".

Maltese Premier Joseph Muscat accused Italy of violating global norms governing sea rescues and said the government's stance risked "creating a risky situation for all those involved". Another 21 patients suffered severe chemical burns from exposure to sea water mixed with fuel, while others need immediate surgery for orthopedic issues.

The 629 rescued migrants on board the ship Aquarius, operated by SOS Mediterranee and Doctors without borders, come from Eritrea, Ghana, Nigeria and Sudan, and include 88 women - seven of which are pregnant - 123 unaccompanied minors and 11 children.

Instead they were brutally rejected.

Once people rescued at sea have been disembarked in a port of safety, the next priority is for European Union governments and institutions to step up and find shared solutions to support countries on the frontline, such as Italy, who are dealing with the burden of arrivals of refugees, asylum seekers and migrants by sea.

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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