Spain’s new prime minister has ordered authorities to allow a Gibraltar-flagged rescue ship carrying 629 migrants to dock in the port of Valenica after the vessel was refused access by Italy and Malta.
Pedro Sanchez’s office said: “It is our duty to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe and offer a secure port for these people.”
Amid the political dispute, the Aquarius, a rescue ship belonging to the SOS Mediterraneee charity, has been stuck in the Mediterranean Sea with its passengers, including 123 unaccompanied minors and seven pregnant women.
Medical workers said food on board the ship is going to run out by Monday night.
The government statement said Spain wanted to comply with its international responsibilities on humanitarian crises.
The leaders of Italy and Malta thanked Spain for the allowing the boat to dock.
The Aquarius took on the migrants from human traffickers’ boats in the Mediterranean Sea on Saturday.
Italian premier Giuseppe Conte thanked Spain for responding to his country’s appeal for a fellow European Union country to receive the asylum-seekers.
Maltese PM Joseph Muscat posted a thank-you tweet that also blamed Italy for the ship’s prolonged journey. He says Malta would send fresh supplies to the Aquarius.
MAIN PHOTO: Undated photo released by French NGO “SOS Mediterranee” yesterday and posted on it’s Twitter account, shows migrants aboard SOS Mediterranee’s Aquarius ship and MSF (Doctors Without Borders) NGOs, in the Mediterranean Sea. Photo: Kenny Karpov/SOS Mediterranee via AP