Published: Fri, June 15, 2018
Global Media | By Jackie Banks

Migrant ship finally sets sail to safe port in Spain

Migrant ship finally sets sail to safe port in Spain

Italy has refused to grant access to another migrant rescue ship right after denying entry to nearly 630 migrants on board the rescue vessel Acquarius, Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said.

The two humanitarian organizations completed six separate rescue operations on Saturday night and Sunday morning and overfilled their ship, which is equipped for roughly 550 people, according to project coordinator Aloys Vimard.

"I have given instructions for Spain to welcome the #Aquarius ship in the Port of Valencia".

On Monday, shortly after Salvini's government denied the Aquarius access to Italian ports, the League party picked up victories in local mayoral elections across the nation.

SOS Mediterannee also said that removing the Aquarius risked lives.

A German migrant aid group earlier its ship is heading toward a shipwreck 20 miles (32 kilometers) off the coast of Libya in which 12 people are believed to have died.

"This shows what happens when there are not enough rescue assets at sea", said Sea Watch spokesman Ruben Neugebauer.

Salvini appears to be using this latest migrant incident to assert that Italy can no longer be left alone to deal with the continuous flow of migrants arriving by sea, mostly from Africa, and that he expects other European countries to share the burden in future.

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Italy's refusal at the weekend marks the first major anti-migrant move since far-right interior minister Matteo Salvini took office this month promising to crack down on illegal immigration.

However, French President Emmanuel Macron denounced the decision to block the Aquarius, saying that under global law Italy should have taken the migrants in.

"There is a degree of cynicism and irresponsibility in the Italian government's behaviour with regards to this dramatic humanitarian situation", Griveaux quoted Macron as saying.

"Italy can not accept hypocritical lessons from countries that have always preferred to turn their backs when it comes to immigration", Conte said in a statement.

Mr Salvini campaigned on an anti-immigrant platform that also included a vow to expel hundreds of thousands of migrants already in Italy, even though experts doubt such mass deportations are feasible or financially viable.

Sánchez, who took office a week ago, said the ship would dock in Valencia. The crisis came after Italy's new right-wing interior minister made good on a pledge to close the country's ports to non-governmental organisations that pick up migrants at sea.

"We don't yet have any information about the departure time", the charity's Marseille-based spokeswoman Laura Garel told Agence France-Presse, adding that the journey from Maltese waters to Valencia would take at least three days. Amelia Umayam, a spokesperson for US Sixth Fleet told CNN in a statement.

Migrants on a rubber boat are rescued by the SOS Mediterranee organisation during a search and rescue operation with the MV Aquarius rescue ship (background) in the Mediterranean Sea, September 14, 2017. "We are talking about people ..."

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