Posted on June 14, 2018 by Ashleigh Cowie

Spain's Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez, has said the country will take in 629 refugees that have been stranded at sea after being refused entry in to Malta and Italy.

The country have been credited with helping to avoid a humanitarian disaster after the rescue ship was left floating in the Mediterranean. 

Sanchez said he would give "safe harbour" to the Aquarius and the people on board after the ship was refused entry in to the other countries' ports. 

The Un refugee agency had called on Italy and Malta to end the standoff but both countries refused to back down. 

Pedro Sanchez, who took office a week ago, said the ship will dock in Valencia. His office said: 

"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."

NGO SOS Mediterranee said the migrants were picked up from inflatable boats off the coast of Libya at the weekend, in six different rescue operations. 

The Council of Europe welcomed Spain's move, with the organisation's Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatovic, tweeting: "Saving lives at sea is an obligation that states must always uphold."

Malta's Prime Minister Joseph Muscat tweeted his gratitude to Spain, saying Italy had broken international rules and caused a standoff.

He said Malta would be sending fresh supplies to the vessel, adding: "We will have to sit down and discuss how to prevent this from happening again. This is a European issue."

Spain's decision to take in the ship was hailed by Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini as a "victory" for his government's hardline immigration policy.

Posted in news , humanitarian , spain , refugees

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