Spain welcomes migrants from ship turned away by Italy and Malta

18 June 2018

Spain welcomes migrants from ship turned away by Italy and Malta

After more than a week at sea, a boat full of migrants have found a safe haven in the Spanish port of Valencia on Sunday, after it was turned away by Italy and Malta.

The 630 migrants danced and sang as it arrived in the port, after it was rescued by the Aquarius last weekend off the coast of Libya. The ship, which was turned away by the two countries, was operated by aid agencies Doctors without Borders and SOS Mediterranee, and had on board 100 minors and seven pregnant women.

The migrants were held on the ship for two days between Malta and the Italian island of Sicily, after the latter nation’s Interior Minister, Matteo Salvini, refused to allow the ship to dock.

After Spain offered to take them in, the ship commenced an 800-mile (1287km) journey to Valencia, along with two Italian ships sent to ease the overcrowding.

The first group that arrived at the Spanish port comprised of 274 migrants, who ported on Sunday morning on board the Italian Coast Guard ship Dattilo. The Aquarius arrived in the port next, with the third vessel, the Orione, arriving at lunchtime.

More than 2,300 people are organised to meet the ships, including 400 translators, 1,000 Red Cross volunteers, and 600 police officers, the local authorities said.

Spain’s new socialist government has promised free healthcare, and says it will investigate each asylum case.

“It is our duty to help avoid a humanitarian catastrophe and offer a safe port to these people, to comply with our human rights obligations,” Prime Minister Pedro S├ínchez said earlier this week.