630 migrants stranded on rescue ship set foot in Spain

By On June 17, 2018

630 migrants stranded on rescue ship set foot in Spain

Skip to main content

Thank you for reading The Straits Times.

Your account has timed out, login for full access to premium stories.

Login"; document.querySelector('body').innerHTML += noteHTML; document.querySelector('.timeoutmsg-area .close-button').addEventListener('click', function() { document.querySelector('.timeoutmsg-area').classList.add('hidden'); }); } } function timeoutNote() { var oneMin = 60000; var timeDur = 120; var timeoutDuration = timeDur * oneMin; setTimeout(timeoutEvt ,timeoutDuration); } 630 migrants stranded on rescue ship set foot in Spain
Italian navy ship the Orione entering the port of Valencia yesterday with some of the 630 refugees who had been transferred from the Aquarius to make the voyage safer and more comfortable. The Aquarius rescued them off Libya’s coast the previous weekend, but Italy and Malta refused to let it dock, accusing each other of failing to meet humanitarian and EU commitments.
The Aquarius docked in Valencia as the 106 migrants on board disembarked to applause from police, health workers and translators waiting on the pier yesterday.
Migrants rejoicing in their last moments on board the Aquarius rescue vessel yesterday. Many of them also sang and danced in excitement over their journey’s end.
Published2 hours ago

Week-long ordeal at sea saw them turned away by Italy and Malta before Madrid stepped in

VALENCIA (Spain) • The 630 migrants whose rescue sp arked a major migration row in Europe arrived in the Spanish port of Valencia yesterday, after a turbulent week that saw Italy and Malta turn them away.

The Aquarius, which has been at the centre of the crisis, sailed into the Valencia harbour at about 10.30am (4.30pm Singapore time), with 106 migrants on board, to applause from police, health workers and translators waiting on the pier.

Under blue skies, migrants danced and sang, their excitement captured in footage released on Twitter by SOS Mediterranee, which operates the rescue vessel with Doctors Without Borders (MSF).

The remaining migrants arrived on an Italian coast guard ship, the Datillo, and an Italian navy vessel, the Orione. They had been transferred from the Aquarius to make the voyage safer and more comfortable.

Medical staff wearing white overalls, gloves and masks went on board the three ships to carry out initial checks before the migrants disembarked in groups of 20.

They were welcomed by a team of more than 2,000 people, including 470 translators and 1,000 Red Cross volunteers who distributed blankets, clothes and hygiene kits.

High waves and winds had forced the convoy to take a detour on its 1,500km voyage to Spain.

"It is the end of a far too long voyage," said the head of MSF Spain, Mr David Noguera, adding that he was happy that the migrants had finally arrived in a "safe place".

At the port, a huge banner was hung up, saying "Welcome home" in various languages.

"Today is a historic day... There will be a before and after," said Father Angel Garcia Rodriguez, a priest who heads the Messengers of Peace non-governmental organisation which is helping migrants at the port.

Among the passengers are 450 men and 80 women - at least seven of them pregnant - as well as 89 adolescents and 11 children under the age of 13, figures released by the Valencian authorities show.

They come from 26 countries, mainly from Africa but also Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, MSF said.

Those with injuries - mainly scratches and burns - were taken to hospital along with the pregnant women, health officials said.

The Aquarius rescued the migrants off Libya's coast the previous weekend but Italy's new populist government and Malta both refused to let it dock, accusing each other of failing to meet their humanitarian and EU commitments.

Spain eventually stepped in and agreed to receive the refugees as a "political gesture" to "oblige Europe to forge a common policy to a common problem", its Foreign Minister Josep Borrell said.

Madrid last Saturday said it had accepted an offer from France - which had angered Rome by branding it irresponsible - to welcome Aquarius migrants who "meet the criteria for asylum".

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez thanked French President Emmanuel Macron for his gesture, sa ying it was "exactly the kind of cooperation Europe needs" at this hour.

The plight of the Aquarius has again highlighted the failure of European Union member states to work together to deal with the influx of migrants since 2015.

After Rome's decision, Mr Macron and Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte met last Friday and called for the EU to set up asylum processing centres in Africa to prevent "voyages of death".

They also demanded "profound" changes to the EU asylum rules which put the migrant burden on their country of entry to Europe - mainly Italy and Greece.

Italy's far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini warned last Saturday that other NGO-operated rescue ships would also be banned from docking. Yesterday, he criticised other EU nations for not taking their fair share of refugees, and hoped Spain would "receive 66,000 other (migrants) and that the Portuguese, the Maltese and others could also receive them ".

MSF emergency coordinator Karline Kleijer said "nothing justifies the degrading treatment" Italy "inflicted" on the passengers of the Aquarius.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 18, 2018, with the headline '630 migrants stranded on rescue ship set foot in Spain'. Print Edition | Subscribe Topics:
  • SPAIN
  • IMMIGRATION LAWS
  • ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION
  • EU

Branded Content

Sponsored Content

Win Home Packages worth $10,000. Visit BIG WEEKENDS! Here’s how to keep fit without breaking a sweat

We have been experiencing some problems with subscriber log-ins and apologise for the inconvenience caused. Until we resolve the issues, subscribers need not log in to access ST Digital articles. But a log-in is still required for our PDFs.

Source: Google News Spain | Netizen 24 Spain

Next
« Prev Post
Previous
Next Post »