Hundreds of Rescued Migrants Begin Their Journey to Spain After Italy Refused To Take Them In
630 "exhausted" migrants are finally making their way to Spain after Italy refused to allow a rescue ship to dock.
The Aquarius, a search and rescue ship carrying 630 migrants and had been stranded in the Mediterranean since Sunday, is now making its four day journey to Spain, CNN reports.
The ship was stranded between Malta and Sicily, after Italy's new populist government turned it away. The Aquarius had been carrying 120 unaccompanied minors and seven pregnant women. On Tuesday, 250 people were transferred to the Italian Navy's Orione, and 274 where transferred to the Coast Guard's Dattilo ship to alleviate the Aquarius.
Annelise Borges, a journalist for Euronews and NBC who was on board the Aquarius tells CNN that "everyone is extremely hot and very tired." She also describes the fear that the migrants were experiencing as "so present, so palpable."
The Aquarius has no showers or sinks for migrants on the ship, and the rescue workers rely on disinfectant spray to use for people's hands before their meals. On Tuesday morning, Italy sent some medical supplies to the Aquarius where 21 people where suffering from chemical burns from the mix of salt water and spilled fuel that had been in the rubber boats.
Italian far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini had posted on Facebook, "VICTORY! 629 migrants on board of Aquarius ship, Spain-bound, our first goal has been reached!"
William Lacy Swing, the director general of the United Nations Migration Agency (IOM), also posted on social media, tweeting, "I fear a major tragedy if states start refusing to accept rescued migrants as was threatened."
The Aquarius will now dock in Valencia, which is 800 miles from where the ship had been stranded. While this avoids a larger crisis, it can hardly be described as a "victory" in the long run, since the Mediterranean remains the deadliest migration route in the world.