Published: Thu, June 14, 2018
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Spain's Valencia to welcome migrants in days

Spain's Valencia to welcome migrants in days

"The prime minister has given instructions for Spain to honour global commitments on humanitarian crises and announced that the country will receive the ship Aquarius", his office said in a statement.

"By closing their ports, Italy and Malta have not only turned their backs on more than 600 desperate and vulnerable people but also on their obligations under global law", Elisa De Pieri, Amnesty International's Italy researcher, said in a statement.

Pictures issued by SOS Mediterranée showed hundreds of Africans huddled on board, including a young girl wrapped in a blanket in the arms of a rescue worker. But he quoted Macron as telling Tuesday's weekly Cabinet meeting: "If any ship was closer to France's shores, it could obviously dock on the French coast".

Echoing similar calls by the United Nations and the bloc's biggest member state Germany, Schinas added: "For the commission there is first and foremost a humanitarian imperative, we are talking about people".

European Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas said Monday that "the priority of both the Italian and Maltese authorities should be ensuring these people receive the care they need".

Italy's new populist coalition government between the far-right League party and anti-establishment Five Star Movement has pledged to stop the flow of people entering the country through the Mediterranean.

Also on the shelf was a copy of a book about the cooperation agreement with Putin's United Russia party that Salvini signed in Moscow previous year on behalf of his own far-right party.

Italian newspaper Repubblica reported government sources said Mr Salvini's plan is to only let migrants enter Italian waters if they are on Italian, military or commercial boats.

"My aim is to guarantee a peaceful life for these youths in Africa and for our children in Italy", he said, using the Twitter hashtag "We are shutting the ports".

In the other hand, the Maltese government insisted it was "acting in full conformity with its global obligations".

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

"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".


"Denying disembarkation to desperate people rescued at sea can not be considered as a victory: it is the wrong response to the lack of responsibility and burden sharing between member states", said Aloys Vimard, MSF's project coordinator on board Aquarius. It added that the Aquarius "is still waiting for definitive instructions regarding the port of safety".

Some of those on board are reportedly pregnant women, and 15 others have serious chemical burns.

In a statement late Sunday after speaking with his Italian counterpart, Muscat refused to let the ship dock in a Maltese port, but said Malta will conduct emergency medical evacuations if necessary.

"The people we saved yesterday were in a hard condition, at least 50 were at risk of drowning".

"Spain wants to report us, France says I'm "sickening".

Rescuers warned of deteriorating weather conditions facing the 629 people - including pregnant women and scores of children - who have been crammed on the Aquarius vessel since being plucked from the sea off the Libyan coast at the weekend.

"From now on, Italy isn't alone, and we hope other European leaders follow" Spain's example, said Di Maio, who along with the League is seeking to renegotiate the EU regulations that determine which EU country is responsible for processing asylum claims.

The summer of 2016 saw a surge in mass drownings in the Mediterranean as Europe's worst migration crisis since World War II peaked with hundreds of thousands of people fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East and elsewhere.

Laurent, of SOS Mediterranee, acknowledged Spain's offer of solidarity but said it wasn't up to the Rome-based rescue co-ordinationcentre run by the Italian coast guard.

Italy has long protested that sending migrants to the nearest port has distributed Europe's burden unequally, hitting Italy particularly hard.

Malta, for its part, has consistently refused to take in migrants, citing its small size and limited capacities.

"Our only objective is the disembarkation in a port of safety of the people that we rescued yesterday in hard conditions", it said, adding that it "took good note" of the Italian Interior Ministry's statements.

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