for migrant boat
ROME (TNS) — The fate of a rescue boat carrying more than 600 migrants and refused entry to Italy and Malta remained unclear late Monday, after its nongovernmental organization operator said taking up an offer from Spain may not be possible.
“The Spanish MRCC has offered to receive the Aquarius in Valencia,” SOS Mediterranee said late Monday on Twitter.
“This mobilization is a very positive signal although reaching Spain would require several days of sailing. With so many people on board under deteriorating weather conditions could become critical.”
It made clear that Italy, where migrants rescued in the central Mediterranean have routinely been brought in recent years, remained responsible for the situation.
“Safety of all rescued people should remain the priority before all. Italian maritime authorities must organize for a safe and fast solution for the 629 people on board,” SOS said.
A bitter row broke out between Italy and Malta this past weekend over which country should take in the Aquarius rescue boat, which picked up the migrants on Saturday and Sunday.
Spain attempted to defuse the situation by giving instructions for the boat to dock in Valencia to “avoid a humanitarian disaster” and its crew received official entry approval late Monday.
The NGO was blocked from docking by Italy’s new anti-immigrant interior minister, Matteo Salvini, who argued that people plucked from the Mediterranean should not all end up on his country’s shores.
“Clearly, politely raising our voice _ something that the Italian government had not done for a long time, for years _ pays,” Salvini said from the headquarters of his far-right League party.
Salvini had initially asked Malta to take in the Aquarius, but the government in Valletta said the issue was not its responsibility and accused Italy of “creating a dangerous situation.”
“Italy broke international rules and caused a standoff,” Maltese premier Joseph Muscat tweeted. “We will have to sit down and discuss how to prevent this from happening again,” he added.