Twitter: PanEuropeanMovement ‏

Migrants transferred to Italian ships for trip to Spain

Italy and Malta have refused the migrants entry to dock at ports since Saturday

Hundreds of migrants were being split between three ships Tuesday for a trip to Spain in bad weather, after Italy’s new government used their plight to pressure Europe to revisit its migration policy.

The 629 migrants — including 123 unaccompanied minors and several pregnant women — were onboard the Aquarius, operated by the charity SOS Mediterranee. The migrants, stuck at sea since Saturday after Italy and Malta refused them permission to dock in their ports, are now heading for Spain, where the prime minister has offered them safe harbour.

RELATED: Migrants remain at sea as Italy-Malta standoff escalates

The migrants were being transferred to two Italian ships, one Coast Guard and one Navy, because of forecasts of deteriorating weather conditions along the route to Valencia, Spain, according to SOS Mediterranee spokeswoman Mathilde Auvillain. Officials in Valencia said they expected the ship to arrive in three to four days, depending on when they depart and weather conditions.

Italy’s new anti-migrant, right-wing interior minister has made good on a campaign pledge to close Italian ports to non-governmental organizations that pick up migrants at sea, which he has likened to taxi services for migrant smugglers.

Matteo Salvini, whose League is part of the populist coalition that took office this month, promised voters that other European countries would be made to share the burden of caring for asylum-seekers arriving in Italy on unseaworthy boats mostly from lawless Libya, also taking particular aim at the aid vessels.

The new Spanish foreign minister said that Spain’s decision in accepting the migrant ship is also meant to push European Union leaders to address the bloc’s migration policies later this month at an EU summit.

“Spain has made a gesture that aims to trigger a European dynamic to stop looking away, allowing one (EU member) to cope with the problem while the rest of us pass the buck,” Borrell told Ser radio late on Monday.

The decision to offer a docking port in the eastern city of Valencia had been a personal and direct move by the country’s new prime minister, the Socialist Pedro Sanchez.

Many Spanish regions and cities have offered to provide long-term support to the migrants, said Valencia’s regional vice-president, Monica Oltra. The Red Cross was preparing shelter and medical assistance to meet immediate needs on their arrival.

The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Northern Haida Gwaii Hospital to get secure room for psychiatric patients

Cost anticipated at close to $1 million for Masset hospital

Queen Charlotte explores banning single use plastics

Council seeking community input on options to reduce plastic waste

Masset fishing derby proves to be a catch

All ages participated in the competition to bring in the top salmon and halibut hauls

Yarn Bombing mastermind is back in town

Big Canada Day longweekend in the works

New rules prohibit fishing in Haida waters

Strict protection zones will be in effect to preserve resources in the area

VIDEO: Rare white killer whale captured by drone near Campbell River

The transient orca has been named Tl’uk, a Coast Salish word that means ‘moon.’

B.C.-born Carey Price brings young fan to tears at NHL Awards banquet

Anderson Whitehead first met his hockey idol after his mother died of cancer

Licence issue delays boozing while cruising on BC Ferries

Planned June launch for alcohol sales delayed

B.C. school mourns after 13-year-old killed by fallen tree on field trip

Teenager died after being struck and pinned by tree while on a field trip near Sooke

B.C. temporarily halts resource development to protect caribou

The caribou population in northeastern B.C. has dwindled over the last two decades

‘The Fonz’ gives thumbs up in letter to dyslexic students at B.C. school

Students in Maple Ridge reached out to Henry Winkler after reading one his Zipster books.

B.C. teen killed by falling tree near Victoria

Second youth also injured in freak incident during field trip at Camp Barnard near Sooke

Commercial fishers in B.C. now required to wear life-jackets on deck: WorkSafeBC

WorkSafeBC reports 24 work-related deaths in the commercial fishing industry between 2007 and 2018

Most Read