Spain hailed for ending migrant ship stand-off

15 June, 2018, 12:34 | Author: Orlando Hughes
  • LIMBO The vessel was stranded in international waters

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

Spain's new Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez agreed to allow the ship to dock in its eastern port of Valencia.

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez "has given instructions for Spain to comply with its global commitments in matters of humanitarian crises" according to a Moncloa statement.

Maltese Premier Joseph Muscat accused Italy of violating worldwide norms governing sea rescues and said its position risks "creating a risky situation for all those involved". Dr. Craig Spencer, Director of Global Health in Emergency Medicine at New York-Presbyterian who has led the medical team aboard the Aquarius, spoke to NPR in 2017 about the work the ship does. "What does global law say?"

He said Malta would be sending fresh supplies to the vessel, adding: "We will have to sit down and discuss how to prevent this from happening again".

'A European issue' Malta and Italy both thanked Spain for stepping up, but maintained their dispute over who was responsible.

Salvini, who was only recently appointed as Italy's deputy prime minister and interior minister, has taken a hard-line approach against migrants, stating that his country would clamp down on new arrivals.

"It's clear right now, too many people will drown if we're not out here", he said.

On Monday Spain stepped in and announced that the ship would be allowed to dock in the southeastern city of Valencia.

The Aquarius will carry around 100 immigrants to their new destination, while the rest will be transferred to two additional vessels from Italy's Coast Guard and Navy.

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Salvini refused to back down. "From today, Italy will also start to say no to human trafficking, no to the business of illegal immigration", he wrote on Facebook.

Migrants on a rubber boat are rescued by the SOS Mediterranee organisation during a search and rescue operation with the MV Aquarius rescue ship (background) in the Mediterranean Sea, September 14, 2017.

"Particularly seven pregnant woman, 15 with serious chemical burns and several critical drowning hypothermia patients", MSF Sea said.

Early on Tuesday morning, the coordinator for the non-profit aid group Doctors Without Borders, which has staff aboard the Aquarius, confirmed that the journey to Spain will go ahead.

Since Friday, the German branch of the SOS Mediterranean NGO has been rescuing migrants and asylum seekers in the Mediterranean and taking them on board the Acquarius. They say other European Union countries should share this burden.

SOS Mediterannee also said that removing the Aquarius risked lives.

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.

However, French President Emmanuel Macron denounced the decision to block the Aquarius, saying that under worldwide law Italy should have taken the migrants in.

"The better option would be to disembark the rescued people in the nearest port after which they can be transferred to [Spain] or other safe countries for further care & legal processing".



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