Spain to offer "safe port" for ‘Aquarius’ migrant rescue ship in Valencia

629 migrants on ship in limbo after Italy Malta refusal

629 migrants on ship in limbo after Italy Malta refusal

Dalli accused the Italian government of breaching global maritime laws by refusing to allow the Aquarius to berth in its ports. The Aquarius on Monday was more than 1,400 kilometres (over 750 nautical miles) from Valencia and by late Monday said it hadn't received any instructions yet to head to Spain.

The Aquarius, a humanitarian ship run by the NGO SOS Mediterranean and Doctors Without Borders (MSF), said it saved 946 people, including 200 unaccompanied minors rescued after being found drifting on nine wooden and rubber boats.

The agency's special envoy for migrants in the Mediterranean, Vincent Cochetel, underscored that "people are in distress, are running out of provisions and need help quickly". It said some of the passengers were suffering from water in their lungs as well as chemical burns caused when gasoline mixes with seawater. "The situation is stable but it can not run" forever.

Italy's new Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said "saving lives is a duty, turning Italy into a huge refugee camp is not". Speaking to Spanish public radio broadcaster RNE Monday, Vimard said that on-board food supplies would last only one more day. The League campaigned on an anti-migrant platform that proved popular with Italian voters because Italy and Greece had borne the brunt of the refugee and migrant crisis.

The aid group said in a statement it had taken "good note" of Mr Salvini's stance, as reported earlier by Italian media.

"Italy is done bowing its head and obeying", Salvini tweeted on Mondy.

Mr. Salvini and leaders of the previous government complained that the European Union was casting Italy adrift by doing little to ease Italy's migrant burden.

Meanwhile, the situation with 'Aquarius' was resolved after Spain made a decision to step in following the United Nations refugee agency call to promptly find a way to take the ship full of people in.

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The closest, safest port, excluding Libya, was Lampedusa, however, Italian Home Affairs Minister Matteo Salvini ordered all of his country's ports closed to the ship, insisting that Italy can no longer continue to bear the brunt of migration which he contends is being facilitated by NGOs operating "sea taxis".

Malta said the rescue operations took place in global waters off Libya and were coordinated by Italy.

The Maltese Rescue Coordination Center "is neither the competent nor the coordinating authority", the statement said.

Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez says the rescue ship can dock in Valencia on Monday afternoon.

The country refuses to take in migrants because of its small size. Among those on board are 400 migrants rescued by the Italian navy and merchant vessels before being transferred to the Aquarius. And he said the logistics and time counted against setting a course for Spain. "We need to have an idea of what port to go to, something that up to now we haven't had".

However, such strong and public rejection of the government's immigration policy is likely put pressure on new Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte just a week into his first term.

The Aquarius ship at sea.

The Commission says the legal circumstances dictating who should accept the migrants is "anything but clear", however Brussels says both parties are obliged to cooperate to resolve the matter. "He is now out of danger", Beversluis said.

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