Spain accepts ‘Aquaris’ ship with 629 migrants on board

Italy and Malta had refused to take the humanitarian ship in. New Spanish government offers Valencia as a safe harbour.

Evangelical Focus

VALENCIA · 11 JUNE 2018 · 15:56 CET

Some of the people on board of the Aquarius ship, last weekend. / Oscar Corral, El País,
Some of the people on board of the Aquarius ship, last weekend. / Oscar Corral, El País

More than 120 unaccompanied minors are on the ship that was drifting in the Mediterranean after the government of Italy and Malta had refused to let it dock.

Migrants rescued in six operations are on the French ship ‘Aquaris’, a ship managed by humanitarian organisations SOS Mediterranean and Doctors Without Frontiers (MSF, in French).

The ship finally found a destination. It could arrive to Valencia, after the Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez responded to calls of the United Nations and the European Union to find a solution to what had become a diplomatic crisis between Italy’s new government and Malta. Both countries had rejected to let the ‘Aquaris’ dock.

Sánchez’s government said it would offer a solution to the people o board of the ‘Aquaris’ due to humanitarian reasons. “It is our obligation to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe and offer a safe port for these people”.

The Mayor of Valencia, Joan Ribó, said they were open to receive the vessel and defined Valencia as “a refuge city”. He added: “I have spoken to the Vice President of the regional government, to prepare a shelter initiative in the next few hours” . The city of Barcelona had also offered its port to put an end to the crisis.

The 'Aquaris' could take more than 3 days to arrive to Valencia, which could cause severe difficulties to the people on board.

The Prime Minister of Malta, Joseph Muscat, welcomed the decision and announced his government will send supplies to the vessel.


The new Italian Interior Minister, far-right leader of Lega party Matteo Salvini had tweeted: “Italy is not going to put his head down and obey others, this time someone says ‘no’”. He later said the fact that Spain would take the migrants was a “victory” for his country.

Italy has been one of the countries that has received most asylum seekers since the start of the refugee crisis in 2015. Previous Italian governments had expressed their frustration with other European countries, asking EU member states to get more involved, beyond the official relocation scheme.

The arrival of tens of thousands of migrants to Italy is one of the causes that has helped populist anti-migration parties to reach power after the last national election.



Evangelical organisations have been involved in welcoming migrants and hosted the European Refugee Highway Partnership rountable in Catania, two years ago.


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