630 migrants stranded on rescue ship set foot in Spain
630 migrants stranded on rescue ship set foot in Spain
Spain takes in boat packed with hundreds of refugees after Italy turns it away
21 June, 2018, 22:13
The 630 migrants were met by health officials, Red Cross volunteers and psychologists.
On Monday, Spain's maritime rescue service said it has brought to safety 152 migrants attempting to enter Europe by sea, while a boat with 54 more people is still missing.
Doctors Without Borders (MSF) which runs the Aquarius with Franco-German charity SOS Mediterranee, tweeted a photo of one of its team telling the people on board what they could expect.
High waves and winds had forced the convoy to take a detour on its 1,500km voyage to Spain. But Spain is fast becoming another port of refuge because of the crackdown by Italy and crowded conditions on refugee camps in Greece.
"Without clothes, or memories of the lives they left behind, however, they are still caring", he said.
The head of the Red Cross urged European Union member states yesterday (17 June) to follow Spain's example of welcoming a rejected migrant ship and "put into practice" the humanitarian values promoted by the bloc.
'Almost half the migrants have shown their willingness to seek asylum in France, which offered to welcome some of the people travelling on the ship, ' Spain's new socialist government said in a statement.
The head of Doctors Without Borders in Spain says he's glad that Spain has allowed an aid convoy with 630 migrants to dock but he's anxious about European nations closing their ports to those rescued at sea.
"The terrible stories that we hear from people who come out of Libya is gut-wrenching", he said.
Three vessels, including the Aquarius, which rescued the 630 migrants last weekend, have now docked in the harbour.
Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has adopted a migrant-friendly stance since taking up his post two weeks ago.
The Vatican and Mexico are lamenting how children "are suffering the most" from migration, as the Trump administration comes under increasing criticism for its policy of separating children from their parents at the U.S. -Mexico border.
Spain's minister of public works, said due to their ordeal, the migrants from the rescue ship Aquarius will be granted a "special authorization" to remain in the country for one month before "they will be dealt with according to our laws without exception".
Officials say the rescued migrants include 123 unaccompanied minors, 11 younger children under the age of 13 and seven pregnant women.
Under the EU's asylum laws - now the subject of a major political dispute and under revision - migrants must apply for asylum in the country where they first enter Europe.
Italy's rejection of the Aquarius prompted a spat with France, while the issue of immigration has triggered a political row in Germany.
The rescued people stayed on the Navy boat for several more days before being transferred to the Italian coast guard vessel on Sunday morning.
At least 792 migrants have died crossing the Mediterranean so far this year, according to the United Nations.
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