The new Spanish government is to allow the Gibraltar flagged migrant rescue ship Aquarius, currently waiting in international waters between Malta and Sicily (Italy), to dock in Valencia, the Prime Minister's Office, Moncloa, confirmed in a statement at 2:30 p.m.
"The Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, has given instructions for Spain to comply with its international commitments in matters of humanitarian crises", said the statement: "and has announced that a Spanish port will welcome the Aquarius, in which 600 people have been abandoned to their fate in the Mediterranean".
The statement confirmed the destination port would be Valencia, some 1,300 km from the Aquarius's current location.
EFE quoted a doctor on board as saying there is only enough food and water left for one day, which will cause logistical difficulties if the ship now sets course for Spanish waters.
At 3 p.m. on Monday, Sara Alonso, a journalist with Radio Nacional España on board the vessel, confirmed on Twitter that they were running out of food and that "Valencia is 700 nautical miles away: we would take several days to arrive".
The government of Gibraltar confirmed to The Spain Report that the Aquarius was flagged in Gibraltar.
The Mayors of Barcelona and Valencia, on Spain's eastern Mediterranean coast, had offered their cities to take in the 629 people on board. Spanish news agency EFE quoted one doctor on board the vessel as saying there is only enough food left for today.
MSF Sea tweeted an update on the medical situation on board the ship: "stable for now but unnecessary delay to disembarkation in safe port puts vulnerable patients at risk, particularly: 7 pregnant women, 15 w/ serious chemical burns, several critical drowning + hypothermia patients".
The Mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau (Barcelona In Common), told a breakfast meeting on Monday that "of course we offer Barcelona" and demanded the new Spanish government "not look the other way".
On Sunday night, she tweeted the Mayor of Naples: "Thank you Mayor. Barcelona is also ready to save lives. European States must get organised to welcome [people] or otherwise all of Europe will be shipwrecked".
The Mayor of Valencia, Joan Ribó (Compromís), offered his city, 300 km south of Barcelona, to welcome the migrants.
"Valencia offers itself as a #RefugeCity to welcome the 629 people fleeing war and starvation (123 children). We want to avoid more deaths in the Mediterranean".
He said he had asked the Deputy First Minister of the region of Valencia, Mónica Oltra (Compromís) to begin making it happen. She tweeted that she had, "so that the women, men, girls and boys of the Aquarius can have a warm welcome and so the torment they are living through might end".
Spanish trade unions UGT and CC OO called on the new government to do something to help the migrants.
On Monday morning, Defence Minister Margarita Robles told a radio programme that the matter "will need to be studied".
A fuller quote provided by the Ministry of Defence said that the minister thought "It is a big problem that is not new, although now it is growing."
The Mayor of Madrid, Manuela Carmena (Ahora Madrid) said she thought "The Spanish government cannot do nothing faced with what is happening with the Aquarius. We have the duty and the capacity to welcome the refugees."
Updated: 3:16 pm, Jun 11 2018 (link)
Malta Thanks Spain, To Send Fresh Supplies To Aquarius
The Prime Minister of Malta, Joseph Muscat, tweeted his thanks to Spain for accepting the 629 migrants on board the Aquarius to dock in Valencia and said Malta would send fresh supplies to the migrant rescue vessel, where food and water are about to run out.
Mr. Muscat blamed Italy for the crisis and said it was a "European issue".
"I thank #Spain PM @sanchezcastejon for taking in #Aquarius after #Italy broke international rules and caused a standoff. #Malta will be sending fresh supplies to the vessel. We will have to sit down and discuss how to prevent this from happening again. This is a European issue -JM"
Updated: 7:48 pm, Jun 11 2018 (link)
Italy's Salvini Claims "VICTORY!" As Europe Praises Sánchez
The new Italian Deputy Prime Minister and Home Secretary, Matteo Salvini, leader of the right-wing populist party Lega Nord, celebrated the decision by the Prime Minister of Spain, Pedro Sánchez, to accept the rescued migrants on board the Aquarius at the Spanish port of Valencia.
"VICTORY!", he tweeted: "629 immigrants on board the Aquarius [are going to] Spain. First objective reached!".
Earlier on Monday, he had written that "Italy has stopped bowing its head and obeying, this time THERE IS SOMEONE SAYING NO", in reference to another migrant rescue ship, the Sea Watch 3, which he described as "waiting off the coast of Libya to take on the umpteenth load of immigrants to bring to Italy".
The European Commission's Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, Dimitris Avramopoulos, praised the Spanish Prime Minister for showing "real solidarity" with people in need of assitance.
"Welcome the decision of the Spanish Government to let the Aquarius disembark in Valencia for humanitarian reasons. This is real solidarity put in practice, towards both these desperate and vulnerable people and towards fellow EU Member States. #migrationEU".
Updated: 8:18 pm, Jun 11 2018 (link)
MSF Spain Says It Wants Aquarius Migrants Offloaded "Immediately"
Doctors Without Borders (MSF) in Spain has said it does not want the Aquarius to sail to Spain—an estimated three day journey by sea—despite the Prime Minister's offer of welcome at the port of Valencia, but would prefer the 629 migrants on board landed "immediately" so that the ship can continue to pick up the "migrants and refugees that leave Libya in boats every day".
Aid organisation SOS MEDITERRANEE said 950 bottles of water and 800 packets of noodles had been supplied to the ship, which had begun to run out of food and water.
The NGOs said so far on Monday evening no further official instructions had been received from maritime authorities regarding the next stages of the ship's journey. The Aquarius remains in waters between Sicily (Italy) and Malta.
MSF said "people onboard #Aquarius are getting increasingly anxious and desperate" and that "one man threatened to jump overboard, saying he was scared he would be returned to #Libya".
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