Italy transports migrants to Spain

Leroy Wright
June 13, 2018

Spain unexpectedly offered on Monday to take in the migrants, who were picked up off Libya's coast over the weekend, but the Aquarius had still not moved more than 16 hours later, as Italian authorities work out the logistics of the trip.

The Italian government responded with a statement saying "Italy can not accept hypocritical lessons from countries that in the migration field have always preferred to turn their head to the other side", Italian media reported, adding that Rome is considering canceling a summit between Macron and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on Friday.

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 risky situation".

Despite the claim by Mayor Orlando that the government stands in opposition to worldwide law by closing the ports to migrant smuggling operations, a distinguished expert on global maritime law Admiral Paolo Caffio has given his verdict, stating that not only is it legal, but there is also precedent, reports Il Giornale.

Meanwhile, hundreds of the migrants aboard the Aquarius were being transferred late Tuesday to two ships operated by the Italian navy and coast guard, which will accompany the rescue ship to the Spanish port of Valencia some 1,500 kilometers (932 miles) away, a journey of some three to four days.

But critics have increasingly accused the group of actively encouraging migrant crossings, since those leaving Libya know there is a good chance they will be rescued.

"It says that the country responsible for operations in that area has primary responsibility for taking them from the ship". The leader of the far-right Lega also hit back at both France and Spain, after both countries criticised Italy's rejection of the Aquarius.

Malta and the new populist government in Italy each refused to take the migrants in, accusing one another of failing to meet their obligations.

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Greece and Macedonia are involved in a longtime dispute over the name of the Republic of Macedonia . And it will help to consolidate peace and stability across the wider Western Balkans, ' he added.

But Italy can not simply expel hundreds of thousands of undocumented migrants without severe repression, and Italy doesn't yet have the agreements with many key countries of origin needed to facilitate returns.

MSF Sea (Doctors Without Borders) said the medical situation of those on board was "stable for now but unnecessary delay to disembarkation in safe port puts vulnerable patients at risk".

Matteo Salvini, the country's new interior minister and the head of League, blocked the Aquarius' access to Italian ports. "The priority must be to immediately disembark all 629 people - including 123 unaccompanied minors, 11 children and 6 pregnant women - at the nearest port of safety".

Italy's Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said his country had "asked for a gesture of solidarity from Europe and this gesture has been made".

"No one should dare brand Italy or its government as inhumane or xenophobic", Transport Minister Danilo Toninelli told Radio Capital.

But on Tuesday morning, the ship's organizer SOS Mediterranee confirmed that the rescued people will be transferred to Italian ships and sent to Spain.

"We call on all involved to contribute to a swift resolution so that the people on board the Aquarius vessel may be safely disembarked as soon as possible".

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