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Spain agrees to accept boat with stranded migrants

Staff Writer | June 12, 2018
After being stranded at sea for days, more than 600 migrants will be admitted to Spain after Italy and Malta refused to take them in.
Migrants boat
Europe   Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez offered to accept the migrants
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez offered to accept the migrants Monday after the governments of Italy and Malta refused to let the vessel Aquarius dock in either country.

The migrants will be taken to the port of Valencia, officials said -- about 100 on the Aquarius and the rest on two naval ships. A deal to accept the boat's displaced passengers was struck early Tuesday.

More than 123 children were aboard the Aquarius. Officials said they were picked up during six rescue operations off Libya's coast. The migrants come from 26 countries, mostly Sudan, Sos Mediterranee said.

Although none of the migrants are seriously hurt, officials said many are ill. There were also seven pregnant women on the boat.

U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi called Spain's decision to accept the migrants "courageous."

"Irrespective of how European countries choose to manage their sea borders, the principle of rescue at sea is one that should never be in doubt," he said.

Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, who strongly opposed letting the refugees land on on Italy's shores, was pleased with Spain's decision.

"VICTORY!" he said in a tweet. "629 immigrants aboard the ship Aquarius headed for Spain, primary goal achieved!"