Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Britain refuses to take in any migrants stranded on a rescue ship in the Mediterranean.

Britain refuses to take in any migrants stranded on a rescue ship in the Mediterranean.

According to reports Britain has refused to take in any migrants stranded on a rescue ship in the Mediterranean.

The Aquarius on Friday picked up 141 Africans - half children - in two operations but has been stuck in international waters since because no country let it dock.

The Italian government yesterday said the UK must house the migrants because the French-German ship is registered in Gibraltar, a British territory.

But today other countries agreed to share the migrants between them and so Malta finally agreed to let the ship dock.

Spain said it would accept 60 people, while Portugal offered to welcome 30, with the remainder distributed between France, Germany, and Luxembourg, government sources in Malta and Spain said.

The boat, run by the Franco-German charity SOS Mediterranean and Doctors without Borders (MSF), has been in a four-day standoff in which Italy, Spain, Tunisia, and Malta refused the ship entry.

The latest migrants had been rescued from boats off Libya, and Malta had initially argued that they should be taken to Libya, Tunisia or the Italian island of Lampedusa, all closer to the rescue points.

Britain refuses to take in any migrants stranded on a rescue ship in the Mediterranean.

'Following discussions between France and Malta, a number of European Union member states, with the support of the European Commission, agreed on a responsibility-sharing exercise regarding the rescued migrants,' the Maltese government said.

The Aquarius, which hit the headlines in June after being stranded with 630 migrants on board, causing a major diplomatic row, resumed its rescue operations off Libya last week.

Spain's new Socialist government helped resolve the first standoff by allowing the boat to dock in Valencia and was again at the forefront of the solution on Tuesday.

'Spain has coordinated a pioneering agreement with six countries to share the hosting of the people on the Aquarius... Spain will take 60 people,' Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez wrote on Twitter.

Malta confirmed afterwards it would allow the ship to dock to disembark its passengers, many of whom are unaccompanied children from violence-wracked Somalia and repressive Eritrea.

'Malta will be making a concession allowing the vessel to enter its ports, despite having no legal obligation to do so,' said a government statement posted on Twitter.

European Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said the bloc needs to find a long-term solution to the migrant issue.

'We cannot rely on ad-hoc arrangements, we need sustainable solutions. It is not the responsibility of one or a few Member States only, but of the European Union as a whole,' he said in a statement.

The Aquarius, which was left stranded with 630 migrants on board in June after being turned away by Rome and Valletta, resumed rescue operations off the Libyan coast last week.

On Friday, it picked up 141 people in two separate operations, half of them children, but it has again struggled to find a port to bring them ashore

Sophie Beau, president of the vessel's operator SOS Mediterranee, said the ship, currently situated between Malta and the Italian island of Lampedusa, had again received 'official negative replies' from the two countries.

'We're asking all European countries to find a solution. We're asking them to be responsible and find a safe port in the Mediterranean,' she said, accusing Italy and Malta of flouting international maritime law.

Tove Ernst, a spokesman for the European Commission, said it was in contact with 'a number of member states that have approached us regarding the incident' to try to find a 'swift resolution' to the standoff.

Amnesty International said in a statement: 'Italy and Malta's disgraceful refusal to allow refugees and migrants to disembark in their ports is pure cruelty.'

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