World Bulletin / News Desk
The ship called Aquarius rescued around 230 migrants on Saturday and more than 400 were transferred to the ship by Italian military and merchant ships in the area. They were originally set to dock in Italy, but Italy’s newly formed government turned the ship away.
Following Italy’s decision, Malta also said it would not accept the ship either so it remained in standby between the two countries for days.
On Monday, Spain’s new Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez offered to provide a safe harbor, saying on Twitter, “it is our obligation…We comply with international commitments regarding humanitarian emergencies.”
After Spain’s offer, Italy’s far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini from the anti-immigration party League celebrated, tweeting “VICTORY! 629 immigrants abroad the ship Aquarius headed for Spain, primary goal achieved!”
However, organizers debated making the long journey that would require another four days at sea in deteriorating weather conditions for the already exhausted migrants.
But on Tuesday morning, the ship's organizer SOS Mediterranee confirmed that the rescued people will be transferred to Italian ships and sent to Spain.
Authorities on the French island of Corsica had also offered to host the rescue ship.
"Given the location of the ship and the urgency, my opinion is that it would be natural to open a Corsican port to help those people in distress," President of Corsican Assembly Jean-Guy Talamoni, tweeted on Monday evening.
This call was backed on Tuesday morning by the president of the executive council of Corsica Gilles Simeoni.
"Lack of food, bad weather conditions, and Spanish port too far away: facing the emergency, the Executive Council of Corsica offers @SOSMedFrance to host the # Aquarius in a port #Corse," he tweeted.
According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, so far in 2018, 35,090 migrants have crossed the Mediterranean Sea into Europe, with more than 11,300 landing in Spain and 14,200 in Italy.
The UNHCR estimates that 784 have died or gone missing, and its data shows that 21.9 percent of total arrivals are Syrian.
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