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Hundreds of Aquarius migrants turned away by Italy arrive in Spain

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A group of migrants stranded in the Mediterranean for more than a week after Italy and Malta refused their ship entry have arrived in the Spanish city of Valencia.

The first of three vessels entered harbour soon after dawn. The Aquarius, which rescued the 630 migrants last weekend, arrived several hours later carrying a second group.

Health officials and interpreters are on hand to offer support.

Spain’s new socialist government has promised free healthcare and says it will investigate each asylum case.

“It is our duty to help avoid a humanitarian catastrophe and offer a safe port to these people, to comply with our human rights obligations,” Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said earlier this week.

He has adopted a migrant-friendly stance since taking up his post two weeks ago.
The Aquarius sparked a major diplomatic row when it was left stranded on Monday.

Italy’s populist coalition – and in particular its interior minister, the right-wing League party leader Matteo Salvini – has taken a hard-line approach to immigration and refused to let it dock.

Mr Salvini says it is unfair that countries on the frontline of the EU have had to carry most of the burden of handling the migrant influx.

He said Malta should accept the Aquarius, but it refused, arguing that it fell under Italian jurisdiction.

Valencia’s Mayor Joan Ribo, who has offered the ship a safe berth, described Italy’s decision to turn the vessel away as inhuman.

Hundreds of Aquarius migrants turned away by Italy arrive in Spain

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