Ac­tivists protest as Italy pre­pares to ship mi­grants to Spain

Iran Daily - - International -

An at­tack on Hodei­dah would “plunge the coun­try fur­ther into humanitarian dis­as­ter and risk open­ing an­other power vac­uum for Al-qaeda to fill,” said Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Ted Lieu, a Demo­crat of California and a for­mer air force lawyer. “If they cross that red line, the US will have a strate­gic, moral and le­gal obli­ga­tion to cut off all sup­port for the coali­tion in Ye­men.”

Riyadh says the Houthis use the port to smug­gle Ira­nian-made weapons, in­clud­ing mis­siles that have been launched at Saudi cities – ac­cu­sa­tions that were de­nied by Ye­men and Iran.

Houthi leader Ab­dul Ma­lik al-houthi has warned the group will at­tack oil tankers in the event of an as­sault on Hodei­dah.

The coali­tion says one of the main jus­ti­fi­ca­tions for its in­ter­ven­tion is to pro­tect Red Sea ship­ping, which brings Mid­dle East oil and Asian goods to Europe through the Suez Canal.

Com­piled from Dis­patches

Hun­dreds of mi­grants stranded on a res­cue ves­sel in the Mediter­ranean will be taken to Spain with the help of two Ital­ian ships, a char­ity said Tues­day, af­ter de­te­ri­o­rat­ing weather con­di­tions sparked fears for their safety.

Italy planned to trans­fer the mi­grants crammed aboard a char­ity boat onto other ves­sels on Tues­day and then sail them all to Spain, de­spite ap­peals from humanitarian groups to let the group dis­em­bark im­me­di­ately, Reuters re­ported.

Some 629 mi­grants, in­clud­ing 11 chil­dren and seven preg­nant women, have been drift­ing in the cen­tral Mediter­ranean aboard the Aquarius res­cue ship since Sun­day, when both Italy and Malta shut their ports to the ves­sel.

Malta and the new govern­ment of Italy re­fused to al­low the Aquarius res­cue ves­sel to dock.

The move from Rome was the first ma­jor anti-mi­grant step since a Euroscep­tic, pop­ulist govern­ment took of­fice this month.

Spain un­ex­pect­edly of­fered on Mon­day to take in the mi­grants, who were picked up off Libya’s coast over the week­end, but the Aquarius had still not moved more than 16 hours later, as Ital­ian author­i­ties work out the lo­gis­tics of the trip.

Malta and Italy both thanked Spain for step­ping up, but main­tained their dis­pute over who was re­spon­si­ble, AFP re­ported.

Aid work­ers then raised fears that the ship would not be able to reach Spain safely due to de­te­ri­o­rat­ing weather con­di­tions.

They were also con­cerned the ves­sel, which was built to trans­port just 500 peo­ple, could not safely carry all 629 of those res­cued at sea.

Doc­tors With­out Bor­ders, which is op­er­at­ing the Aquarius along­side SOS Mediter­ranne, said Italy wanted to shift at least some of the mi­grants onto other ves­sels and then head to­gether in a con­voy to­wards the Span­ish port of Va­len­cia.

“This plan would mean al­ready ex­hausted res­cued peo­ple would en­dure 4 more days travel at sea,” Doc­tors With­out Bor­ders (MSF) said on Twit­ter. “MSF calls for peo­ple’s safety to come be­fore pol­i­tics.”

It added: “The bet­ter op­tion would be to dis­em­bark the res­cued peo­ple in the near­est port af­ter which they can be trans­ferred to Spain or other safe coun­tries for fur­ther care and le­gal pro­cess­ing.”

But Italy’s new anti-es­tab­lish­ment govern­ment, look­ing to put pres­sure on the Euro­pean Union to re­write its im­mi­gra­tion rules, showed no signs of re­lent­ing de­spite warn­ings of an ap­proach­ing storm bring­ing waves of over two me­ters (6.5 ft).

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