Italy transports migrants to Spain

Lester Mason
June 13, 2018

The Spanish prime minister Pedro Sanchez said he would give the ship "safe harbour" and that he wanted to help avoid a humanitarian emergency.

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

Both the ship and its passengers were caught up in a political dispute that might not have happened weeks ago.

The Mayor of Palermo, one of those cities keen to defy Italy's new populist, anti-establishment left-right coalition government, caught headlines with his remarks when he said of his decision to open the port: "Palermo in ancient Greek meant "complete port".

But efforts to break the stalemate between Italy and Malta are expected to continue. All three ships would sail to Valencia, Spain, together and disembark all the rescued people there.

"Stopping one boat or more in the Mediterranean Sea is not an answer to Europe's migration challenges", Director General Swing said.

The French organisation said that 123 unaccompanied minors, 11 small children and seven pregnant women are among those brought on board.

Malta had food and water ferried Monday to the Aquarius, which was running out of supplies. Many are suffering from fuel burns as a result, and most are dehydrated.

Home Affairs Minister Matteo Salvini told Italian media that a second humanitarian ship, the Sea Watch 3, which is now navigating off the Libyan coast, will not be allowed into Italian ports, if and when it is involved in a migrant rescue operation.

Earlier, a spokesperson for Macron's party, Gabriel Attal, said on a TV show that "the line of the Italian government is nauseating".


France denounced Italy's refusal to take in more than 600 migrants stranded aboard the rescue ship Aquarius, accusing the government of "cynicism" and asking Rome to reconsider its position. Salvini retweeted a video with Strada's comments, adding "Stop human trafficking, let's defend our boundaries, I won't give up, my friends".

Spain's offer is "important news, since it signals a turning point", Di Maio said.

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. They were transferred to the Aquarius on Saturday before the standoff developed.

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

On June 3, Salvini went to Pozzallo, a Sicilian port where many rescued migrants and refugees disembark, to thunder that the "good times are over" for undocumented migrants and to insinuate that nongovernmental organizations saving lives in the central Mediterranean are complicit with smugglers.

MSF Sea (Doctors Without Borders) said the medical situation of those on board was "stable for now but unnecessary delay to disembarkation in safe port puts vulnerable patients at risk". He thanked Spain for stepping in.

Italy did, however, get the backing of Hungary.

Neither country thought they should be responsible for helping but the United Nations and European Union asked them to allow the boat to dock describing the situation as "urgent".

Doctors Without Borders tweeted a video of some of the women aboard the ship praying Monday morning.

Italy demands an equal share of migrant intake to be distributed across the bloc, something Conte raised at the G7 meeting this past weekend.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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