MSF urges European Union states to allow immediate disembarkation of Aquarius

The UN refugee agency on Monday called on Italy and Malta to immediately allow a boat carrying hundreds of migrants to dock, describing the situation as "an urgent humanitarian imperative".

"Victory!" Mr Salvini tweeted after Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, a socialist who took office just over a week ago, gave instructions that the ship be allowed to dock in the eastern port of Valencia.

"By closing their ports, Italy and Malta have not only turned their backs on more than 600 desperate and vulnerable people but also on their obligations under global law", Elisa De Pieri, Amnesty International's Italy researcher, said in a statement. "We need to have an idea of what port to go to, something that up to now we haven't had".

Its doctors are helping treat the migrants, who include seven pregnant women, 11 young children and 123 unaccompanied minors.

The migrant rescue charity SOS Méditerranée, which runs the Aquarius, said 629 migrants had been picked up in six different rescue operations off Libya's coast on Sunday. 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.

"Starting today Italy will begin to say NO to human trafficking, NO to the business of illegal immigration", Salvini wrote in a Facebook post.

File Image of MV Aquarius, a search and rescue ship.

He noted that other European countries are very much involved in current rescue operations in the Mediterranean including a German aid group now off Libya but no country is stepping up to actually take in the migrants.

On Friday of last week, it was the first vessel to reach the coast of Libya after a new populist and openly anti-immigrant government had taken office in Italy.

Since Sanchez announced that Spain would accept the boat, several Spanish regions have offered to take in the new arrivals.

Catalonia's leader Quim Torra said that his region was capable of hosting a total of 1,800 refugees. Italy shouldn't have to shoulder the burden by itself, he added, when other European countries aren't doing their fair share.

The mayor of Madrid Manuela Carmena said the capital could take in "20 families up to a maximum of 100 people".

Ximo Puig, president of the Valencia region, also had strong words for Rome.

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.

Malta, which is near the Aquarius' position, also refused the vessel permission to enter port.

European Union law requires asylum seekers register in the first safe country they reach.

The Italian government, and others like it including Britain's, want hundreds of people to drown to deter others from trying to flee to Europe to escape war, poverty and climate change.


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