Monday, 17 December, 2018

Migrant ship finally sets sail to safe port in Spain

Refugees aboard the Aquarius Refugees aboard the Aquarius
Kenny Thornton | 14 June, 2018, 16:07

Spain's new Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez had offered the boat safe harbour, saying there was a moral "obligation to help to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe".

But politics aside, it wasn't certain if the voyage to Spain was feasible given how far that was from the ship's current location and how long the rescue vessel had been at sea. So many people in such a small space-with 77 meters in length, is ready to host for a couple of days or three to 550 people-poses a great risk because situation can deteriorate very quickly.

But the charity's missions will continue "as long as there are people drowning in the Mediterranean, as long as we have the resources, and as long as we are able to act and we are not kicked out of the area", she said. "The situation is stable but it can not run" forever.

Malta's Prime Minsiter Joseph Muscat continued to insist his country is acting according to worldwide law and that it is Italy's duty to take in the migrants, as Italy's coast guard coordinated the rescues off the coast of Libya.

Medical workers aboard a migrant rescue ship stranded at sea by Italy's new populist government say food on the boat will run out by day's end. Earlier, a spokesperson for Macron's party, Gabriel Attal, said on a TV show that "the line of the Italian government is nauseating".

A little more than a week ago, Italy's new interior minister, Matteo Salvini, told a crowd that "Italy and Sicily can not be Europe's refugee camp" and "the good times for illegals are over", Deutsche Welle reports.

Salvini tried to defuse tensions and in a tweet said that "Spain wants to denounce us, France says that I'm 'nauseating.' I want to work calmly with everybody but with a principal: #firsttheitalians".

Kim takes night tour of Singapore ahead of summit with Trump
Trump says "we've got a very interesting meeting in particular tomorrow, and I think things can work out very nicely". Kim Jong-un and Singapore Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan (left) take selfies on the Jubilee bridge.

"Saving lives is a duty, turning Italy into a huge refugee camp is not". They need to go to the port that is safest and closest. Italy shouldn't have to shoulder the burden by itself, he added, when other European countries aren't doing their fair share.

The 629 migrants who were rescued on Saturday night off the coast of Libya and denied entry into Italy and Malta will be taken to Spain's eastern port of Valencia, said an official with Doctors Without Borders (MSF) at around 6am on Tuesday. All passengers were offloaded to the Aquarius to be taken to land.

Francesco Galietti, CEO of Policy Sonar, a Rome political consultancy and research firm, said that Mr. Salvini's decision to stop the Aquarius from reaching an Italian port was a calculated move to highlight Italy's migrant plight. "They manifestly go against global rules, and risk creating a unsafe situation for all those involved", Mr Muscat said on Twitter.

SOS Mediterranee, the charity co-operating the migrant ship, said it was awaiting instructions about where to disembark from Italy's coastguard, which coordinated the sea rescues. And he said the logistics and time counted against setting a course for Spain.

Marco Bertotto of Doctors Without Borders also told Italian state TV on Monday that some of the 629 migrants aboard the Aquarius have water in lungs after falling into the Mediterranean Sea from smugglers' boats.

Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte said on Facebook that he had called on his Maltese counterpart, Joseph Muscat, to "explicitly at least take on the human assistance of persons in difficulty aboard the Aquarius".

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