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    Tuesday, 12 June 2018

    Migrants rejected by Italy and Malta are transferred on to Italian navy ships

    Some of the 629 migrants stranded on a rescue ship in the Mediterranean have been transferred to other vessels to begin their journey to the Spanish port of Valencia, where they have been offered a safe harbor.
    The Aquarius, operated by charities SOS Mediterranee and Doctors Without Borders, has been stuck off the coast of Sicily since Saturday, after both Italy and Malta denied them access to their ports.
    More than 16 hours after Spain made its offer, the Aquarius, which has seven pregnant women and more than 130 children on board, has not yet set off towards Valencia, and tensions are reportedly high among the passengers.
    Charity workers on the Aquarius said the rescued migrants were becoming 'increasingly anxious and desperate', after being told they are still not moving, three days after being rescued.SOS Mediterranee said Tuesday that some of the some passengers are now being transferred onto Italian navy ships 'for security reasons' because of deteriorating weather conditions on the voyage to Valencia.
    A spokesperson for the charity said an approaching storm would bring with it waves of over 2 metres (6.5 ft) making any trip to Spain highly uncomfortable. Doctors Without Borders, which has medical staff on the Aquarius, has slammed the Italian government for forcing the migrants to embark on a four-day journey to Spain, rather than letting them disembark immediately in Italy.
    'This plan would mean already exhausted rescued people would endure 4 more days travel at sea,' Doctors Without Borders said on Twitter.
    '(We) call for people's safety to come before politics.'It added: 'The better option would be to disembark the rescued people in the nearest port after which they can be transferred to Spain or other safe countries for further care and legal processing.'
    The Aquarius rescued hundreds of migrants, including 134 children and seven pregnant women, trying to cross the Mediterranean from Libya on Saturday, in a mission coordinated by Italy's coast guard - meaning the charities relied on them to find a safe port to dock in.
    But Italy's new, far-right interior minister, Matteo Salvini, looking to make good on election campaign promises to crack down on illegal immigration, closed Italy's ports to the Aquarius.
    He argued that Malta, which is closer to Libya, should take on the migrants, but the Maltese government refused, saying that they had no legal responsibility for the people onboard, causing a two-day deadlock.After both the UN and the EU put pressure on the two nations to solve the situation, Italy appealed for a fellow EU country to receive the asylum-seekers, to which Spain responded and offered a safe port in Valencia.
    The standoff came ahead of a European Union summit later this month which is due to consider changes to asylum law to better share the burden of incoming migrants.
    More than 1.8 million have entered Europe since 2014, with more than 600,000 arriving in Italy alone.

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    Item Reviewed: Migrants rejected by Italy and Malta are transferred on to Italian navy ships Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Asqamar