The Spanish government has given permission to the City of Valencia to take in the ‘Aquarius’, a ship with 629 refugees stranded in the Meditrarranean after Italy and Malta refused it access to their ports.
Negotiations between Joan Ribó, Ximo Puig (president of the Valencian Community) and Carmen Calvo (vice-president and minister for Equality) have led to an agreement to collaborate with the UN to receive the boat.
The Government has shared a communiqué announcing the decision based on « international commitments regarding humanitarian crises. »
« It is our obligation to help avoid a humanitarian catastrophe and offer a safe harbor to these people, thus fulfilling the obligations of International Law, » said the new PSOE Executive.
Ribó and Ada Colau, the Mayor of Barcelona, both offered their cities as places of welcome for the 629 refugees.
« If Barcelona and Madrid have been able to make an agreement with Open Arms, how can it be that the Government of Spain is not doing everything possible so that these people do not stay a minute more at sea? The obligation of a democratic government is not to look the other way. It is a humanitarian and European issue « , Ada Colau said in a statement.
« Valencia was declared a city of refuge and I want to state publicly that we are going to do everything in our power, if there is no other option, to make Valencia the berthing place of this ship, » said Joan Ribó on Monday.
The unions asked the Spanish executive to make the mooring possible « at least until the European authorities are able to guarantee a safe landing of the 629 people on board the ship in the nearest ports for humanitarian reasons. »
The aid group SOS Méditerranée, which operates the Aquarius, said the migrants on board, mainly from sub-Saharan Africa, were picked up in six different rescue operations off the coast of Libya and included hundreds plucked from the sea by Italian naval units