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Spain has agreed to take in a ship carrying over 600 migrants Monday, following refusal by Italy and Malta to let it dock.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, who has been in office for just a week, instructed the ship to dock in the eastern port of Valencia, according to a statement from his office.
A total of 629 people, including over 100 unaccompanied minors, arrived off the coast of Italy on the Aquarius – a ship which rescued the migrants from the coast of Libya on Saturday, according to German charity SOS Mediterranee.
Italy’s interior minister Matteo Salvini, who is the leader of the country’s far-right League party, blocked the ship from docking in Italy over the weekend, arguing that “Saving lives at sea is a duty, but transforming Italy into an enormous refugee camp is not.”
Italy argued that the tiny island nation of Malta take the migrants, but Malta also refused. The ship was docked in international waters between the two countries for over a day despite urgings from the EU and the U.N. to take in the refugees.
According to European Union policy known as the Dublin regulation, migrants seeking asylum in Europe must apply for it in the EU country where they first arrived. The regulation has put a heavy burden on southern European nations – particularly Italy, Malta, and Greece, where a majority of ships crossing the Mediterranean from northern Africa land.
Source: Voice of America