Re­fused by Malta and Italy: Boat with 300 mi­grants ar­rives in Spain af­ter a week at sea

The Malta Independent on Sunday - - NEWS -

A Span­ish aid boat, car­ry­ing over 300 mi­grants res­cued at sea, ar­rived in Spain on Fri­day, end­ing a week-long jour­ney across the west­ern Mediter­ranean.

The boat, op­er­ated by the non­profit group Proac­tiva Open Arms, docked at the Span­ish port of Al­ge­ci­ras.

The boat res­cued 313 mi­grants from the sea near Libya last week, but had to travel to Spain af­ter Malta re­fused it per­mis­sion to dock and Italy and other coun­tries also re­fused to help. Three of the mi­grants were later evac­u­ated for health rea­sons.

Os­car Camps, head of Proac­tiva Open Arms, said on Fri­day that the group of mi­grants in­cluded “19 dif­fer­ent na­tion­al­i­ties, with many peo­ple with the right to ask for asy­lum.”

In June, Spain opened its ports to an­other aid ship be­long­ing to SOS Mediter­ra­nee Sea and Doc­tors With­out Bor­ders car­ry­ing over 600 res­cued mi­grants af­ter Italy and Malta re­fused to let it dock.

Ac­cord­ing to the UN Refugee Agency, over 2,200 mi­grants have died try­ing to cross the Mediter­ranean this year in un­sea­wor­thy smug­glers’ boats while 119,336 have reached Europe.

Yes­ter­day, Spain’s For­eign Min­istry gave per­mis­sion to an aid boat car­ry­ing 311 res­cued mi­grants to set course for Spain af­ter Italy and other Mediter­ranean coun­tries did not an­swer its re­quest to dock.

Spain’s For­eign Min­istry said Malta de­nied the aid boat per­mis­sion to dock and the boat’s calls to Italy, France, Tunisia and Libya have gone unan­swered.

The aid group said it now has per­mis­sion to en­ter the Span­ish port of Al­ge­ci­ras. On its Twit­ter ac­count, Proac­tiva said: “It will be many dif­fi­cult days of sail­ing, but we have a safe port.”

In June, Italy and Malta de­nied en­trance to an­other aid ship be­long­ing to SOS Mediter­ra­nee Sea and Doc­tors With­out Bor­ders that was car­ry­ing over 600 res­cued mi­grants. Spain granted it en­try to end its week-long saga at sea, as Spain’s new cen­tre-left gov­ern­ment made the hu­mane treat­ment of mi­grants one of its first pol­icy de­ci­sions, in con­trast with the hard-line taken by Italy’s pop­ulist lead­ers.

Ac­cord­ing to the UN refugee agency, over 2,200 mi­grants have died try­ing to cross the Mediter­ranean Sea this year in un­sea­wor­thy smug­glers’ boats and 117,540 mi­grants have reached Europe.

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