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

Ferry connecting Port Hardy and Bella Coola expected to set sail this summer

Its first in-service route will sail in central coast waters on May 18, 2019.

Local leaders continue to apply pressure to keep Atlantic Power open

The biomass-energy plant’s electricity purchase agreement expires June 30, 2019

Photos: Rugby hall of fame inductee imparts advice to Falcons players

Leslie Cripps represented Canada at the 2002, 2006 and 2010 World Cups, and was captain in 2010

Thomas-Dueck Powwow happening all day Friday

Renamed in honour of a student and a teacher, Columneetza’s powwow is open to everyone

Over $650,00 given to rural communities thanks to Rural Dividends

Five communities, including Williams Lake, are receiving $10,000 for project grants

Rare ‘super blood wolf moon’ takes to the skies this Sunday

Celestial event happens only three times this century

Scientists ID another possible threat to orcas: pink salmon

For two decades, significantly more of the whales have died in even-numbered years than in odd years

B.C. dangerous offender in court for violating no-contact order, sends letter to victim

Wayne Belleville was shocked to see a letter addressed to him from his shooter, Ronald Teneycke

Judge denies requests from Calgary couple charged in son’s death

David and Collet Stephan wanted $4 million to pay for past and future legal bills

Explosion sends B.C. firefighter to hospital

Kelowna fire crews responded to a blaze at Pope’sGallery of BC Art & Photography on Friday

Ex-Mountie investigating ‘Surrey six’ murders pleads guilty to obstruction

Derek Brassington entered his plea in B.C. Supreme Court on Friday

Man blames his loud car radio, sirens for crash with B.C. ambulance

Tribunal rejects bid to recoup ICBC costs after crash deemed 100-per-cent his fault

RECALL: Salmon Village maple salmon nuggets

Customers warned not to eat product due to possible Listeria contamination

More than 100,000 toxic toys named in Canada-wide recall

Plastic doll contains levels of phthalates over allowable limit and may pose chemical hazard

Most Read