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Barcelona offers to take in 100 refugees from Aquarius ship

The 629 migrants on board the Aquarius are currently en route to Valencia, with support from Italian boats

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12 June 2018 07:39 PM

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ACN | Barcelona

The mayor of Barcelona Ada Colau has announced on Tuesday that the city’s council has offered to take in 100 of the refugees on the NGO rescue ship Aquarius, currently en route to Valencia having been rejected by Italy and Malta. A total of 629 migrants were on board the vessel stranded in the Mediterranean Sea, but will come to the Spanish port in seperate boats. 

The French NGO SOS Mediterranée confirmed on Tuesday that the ship would head to Spain. After they were disallowed from docking in either Italy or Malta, the new Spanish president, Pedro Sánchez, offered the port of Valencia to dock. Shortly after the Catalan president also tweeted Catalonia’s willingness to take in refugees, saying there are 1,800 places available. It is still not certain where all the refugees will be located. 

Colau expressed her “appreciation” for the “gesture” of Sánchez, but regretted the “shameful fight” between various European countries, all passing the buck and not assuming the responsibility of taking in the rescued refugees. 

At first, the charity stressed that reaching Spain “would require several days of sailing,” and warned that “with so many people on board under deteriorating weather conditions things could become critical.” The NGO Doctors Without Borders also deemed the ship’s passage to Valencia as “unsafe.” SOS Mediterranée eventually confirmed that the ship would travel to Valencia with the support of Italian ships.

The standoff started when Italian Home Affairs Minister, far-right Northern League leader Matteo Salvini, said the country would not take any more migrants and urged Malta to allow the 'Aquarius' to dock at the island. After Malta refused, and with the European Union and the United Nations asking both European countries to end the stand-off, Sánchez stepped in and offered the Valencian port instead.

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  • MV Aquarius rescue ship is seen as migrants are rescued by SOS Mediterranee organisation in the Mediterranean Sea (REUTERS)

  • MV Aquarius rescue ship is seen as migrants are rescued by SOS Mediterranee organisation in the Mediterranean Sea (REUTERS)