Three vessels, the Aquarius (a rescue ship), and two Italian Navy vessels, entered the port of Valencia in Spain on Sunday at 6.20 am (4.20 GTM). Together they were carrying 630 migrants coming from 26 different countries among which the largest groups came from Sudan and Nigeria. After 20 hours in overcrowded rubber and 8 days in rough seas representing a 1500-kilometre journey across the Mediterranean, they finally landed. Following the refusal by Italy and Malta to welcome the migrants, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, in office since just over a week, offered to take them in order to apply the European obligation of cooperation in the organization of rescue at sea and disembarkation.
Hence, more than 2000 people were hand to greet the migrants (SOS Méditerranée, Doctors Without Borders, policemen etc). All of the passengers will be granted a special humanitarian permit to stay in Spain for 45 days. Then each migrant’s situation will be examined in the following weeks in order to initiate immigration procedures. France offered to take any migrant who want to come if they qualify for asylum.
Yet, if the French President chided Italy for turning away the Aquarius, he did not offer the vessels to dock in French ports. The Aquarius case created a diplomatic row in Europe between Italy, Malta and France especially. Elhadj As Sy, the secretary general of the International Federation of Red Cross said Europe had let itself down and betrayed its values of solidarity, care, and humanity. Once more, this humanitarian plight demonstrated the failure of European migration and asylum policies.
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