Half of Aquarius migrants reportedly seeking asylum in France

Elias Hubbard
June 20, 2018

But the plight of the Aquarius, run by Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and Franco-German charity SOS Mediterranee, highlighted the European Union's struggle to manage an influx of people fleeing poverty and conflict.

Paris, said yesterday the government's spokesman Benjamin Griveaux, will examine the dossiers on a "case-by-case" basis but for the moment it deems "impossible" to determine their number.

Salvini, who is also leader of the right-wing League and deputy prime minister, posted remarks on Facebook and Twitter in an escalating row with NGOs as one ship, the Aquarius, headed to Spain after being banned from Italian ports. The 270 migrants on board soon began to disembark after medical staff had made a preliminary inspection.

Valencia emergency official Jorge Suarez said some of the migrants were in a state of shock.

"MSF denounces any European government which is choosing political scoring of points above saving lives at sea", she said.

"We have to strike a balance between our sensibilities and humanity and our respect for the law", said Spain's migration minister, Magdalena Valerio. After Spain invited the Aquarius to land, Italy sent the Dattilo and Orione to help transport the migrants.

"They should know that Italy no longer wants to be an accomplice in the business of illegal immigration and therefore they will have to aim for other, non-Italian, ports", Salvini said.

An Italian naval vessel is due to bring the remaining migrants into port later in the morning.

When the Aquarius was coming close to one of the small wrecked boats which carried dozens of refugees, a child, without clothes and shaking, was climbing overboard desperately after falling into water, Corral said, "I was deeply shocked by it".

"Today is a historic day", said Father Angel Garcia Rodriguez, a well-known priest who heads the Messengers of Peace NGO which is helping migrants at the port.

Under the EU's asylum laws - now the subject of a major political dispute and under revision - migrants must apply for asylum in the country where they first enter Europe.

The Aquarius arrived carrying 106 people rescued from unstable boats near Libya. Spain's maritime rescue service pulled 1,290 people from several dozen smuggling boats near the Strait of Gibraltar and the Canary Islands from Friday through Sunday.

Spain offers universal healthcare to its citizens, though the former centre-right government withdrew the right to general healthcare for undocumented migrants in 2012, as part of a programme to cut spending.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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