Spain will welcome a ship with 629 migrants aboard after Italy and Malta refused to let the vessel dock in their ports. The migrants were saved by the French charity SOS Mediterranee on Saturday and were stranded in the Mediterranean Sea when Matteo Salvini, the new Italian interior minister, reportedly refused to allow the vessel to dock at Italian ports.
Aquarius, the vessel which is operated jointly by Medecine Sans Frontiers (MSF) and SOS Medeterranee, received a Spain’s offer on Monday to dock at Valencia after being more than 24 hours on standby between Sicilia and Malta.
Spain's new Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez agreed to allow the ship to dock in its eastern port of Valencia.
The prime minister has given instructions for Spain to honour international commitments on humanitarian crises and announced that the country will receive the ship Aquarius, his office said in a statement.
The statement addresses It is our obligation to help to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe and to offer a safe port to these people.
Italy and Malta showed no sign of backing down despite the UN call to immediately allow the boat to dock, describing the situation as an urgent humanitarian imperative.
Saving lives is a duty, turning Italy into a huge refugee camp is not. Italy is done bending over backwards and obeying, this time THERE IS SOMEONE WHO SAYS NO, he wrote on Twitter followed by the hashtag #closethedoors.
In the other hand, the Maltese government insisted it was acting in full conformity with its international obligations.
The NGOs suggested that the hundreds on board are running out of provisions.
MSF Sea 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.
Particularly seven pregnant woman, 15 with serious chemical burns and several critical drowning hypothermia patients, the NGO said.
The people we saved yesterday were in a difficult condition, at least 50 were at risk of drowning. We need to have an idea of what port to go to, something that up to now we haven't had, Aquarius crew member Alessandro Porro told Sky TG24 on Sunday.