Twitter: PanEuropeanMovement ‏

Migrants transferred to Italian ships for trip to Spain

Italy and Malta have refused the migrants entry to dock at ports since Saturday

Hundreds of migrants were being split between three ships Tuesday for a trip to Spain in bad weather, after Italy’s new government used their plight to pressure Europe to revisit its migration policy.

The 629 migrants — including 123 unaccompanied minors and several pregnant women — were onboard the Aquarius, operated by the charity SOS Mediterranee. The migrants, stuck at sea since Saturday after Italy and Malta refused them permission to dock in their ports, are now heading for Spain, where the prime minister has offered them safe harbour.

RELATED: Migrants remain at sea as Italy-Malta standoff escalates

The migrants were being transferred to two Italian ships, one Coast Guard and one Navy, because of forecasts of deteriorating weather conditions along the route to Valencia, Spain, according to SOS Mediterranee spokeswoman Mathilde Auvillain. Officials in Valencia said they expected the ship to arrive in three to four days, depending on when they depart and weather conditions.

Italy’s new anti-migrant, right-wing interior minister has made good on a campaign pledge to close Italian ports to non-governmental organizations that pick up migrants at sea, which he has likened to taxi services for migrant smugglers.

Matteo Salvini, whose League is part of the populist coalition that took office this month, promised voters that other European countries would be made to share the burden of caring for asylum-seekers arriving in Italy on unseaworthy boats mostly from lawless Libya, also taking particular aim at the aid vessels.

The new Spanish foreign minister said that Spain’s decision in accepting the migrant ship is also meant to push European Union leaders to address the bloc’s migration policies later this month at an EU summit.

“Spain has made a gesture that aims to trigger a European dynamic to stop looking away, allowing one (EU member) to cope with the problem while the rest of us pass the buck,” Borrell told Ser radio late on Monday.

The decision to offer a docking port in the eastern city of Valencia had been a personal and direct move by the country’s new prime minister, the Socialist Pedro Sanchez.

Many Spanish regions and cities have offered to provide long-term support to the migrants, said Valencia’s regional vice-president, Monica Oltra. The Red Cross was preparing shelter and medical assistance to meet immediate needs on their arrival.

The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Jazz is alive and well in Sylvan Lake with upcoming festival

Jazz at the Lake returns to Sylvan Lake, Aug. 17-19.

Many gather to Chip in for Health Care with annual tournament

The annual golf tournamnet in Sylvan Lake was a fundraiser for the AACS

The Hlinka Cup exhibition game a great success for Sylvan Lake

Sylvan Lake held an exhibition game for the Hlinka Gretzky Cup on Aug. 4

Central Alberta Buccaneers come up short against Monarchs

Bucs’ lose star quarterback in heartbreaking affair

Ponoka man faces 95 theft-related charges

Police recover stolen license plates, mail, tools

Average Canadian family spends 43% of income on taxes: study

Fraser Institute’s consumer report shows taxes accounting for larger chunk of income each year

Police chiefs call for stricter controls on pill presses to fight opioids

Canada’s police chiefs are urging Ottawa to beef up its fight against the opioid scourge by closely vetting people who import pill presses

Ponoka Traffic Unit investigate scooter incident

A motorcyclist appears to have lost control of her Suzuki scooter on Highway 2 north of Ponoka

Pesticides linked to bee deaths will be phased out in Canada, sources say

Neonicotinoids, or neonics, are a class of pesticides used by farmers and hobby gardeners alike

Wildfire smoke blankets B.C. and Alberta, prompting air quality advisories

About 25 new wildfires were sparked between Monday morning and midday Tuesday

Stettler woman facing 67 fraud-related charges appears with co-accused

Crown likely proceeding with more serious charge of indictable offence

Wetaskiwin Co-op robbed of laser tool, propane torch

Wetaskiwin RCMP attempting to identify two individuals involved in numerous thefts

Judge OKs Weinstein suit, cites casting couch’s history

Actress Kadian Noble can sue disgraced Hollywood mogul for violating sex trafficking laws

Employers to raise salaries 2.6% on average next year: report

Firm points to factors such possibility of more trade protectionism, rising interest rates

Most Read