More than 300 migrants rescued a week ago off the coast of Libya by the Spanish NGO Proactiva Open Arms arrived in Spain on Friday.
The rescue boat entered the Bay of Gibraltar in the south of Spain around 8.30am, before landing half an hour later in Crinavis harbor in San Roque, after a week at sea.
Once on land, the 311 migrants, from Somalia, Nigeria or Mali, will be hosted by the Red Cross, which will provide them with clothing, food and medical assistance if necessary. The police will then identify them before they can be directed to reception areas.
Rescued on 21 December while aboard three precarious boats in the Mediterranean, the migrants were allowed to land in Spain the next day by the socialist government of Pedro Sanchez, after having been refused by Italy and Malta.
This is the first time in almost five months that Spain has agreed to allow migrant rescue boat to land in one of its ports. Pedro Sanchez welcomed the humanitarian ship Aquarius to Spain a few days after he came to power at the beginning of June, after it had been denied access to Italian and Maltese ports.
Spain has now become the main point of entry for illegal migrants in Europe, ahead of Greece and Italy. More than 56 000 migrants arrived in the country by sea from the 1 st January while 769 died during the crossing.
The Central Mediterranean route is the deadliest, with 1,306 migrants losing their lives during the crossing to the Italian and Maltese coasts since the beginning of the year, according to the latest figures from the International Organization for Migration.