Italy to Ferry Migrants It Rejected to Spain

The humanitarian ship Aquarius currently 43 nautical miles off Malta's coast carrying 629 migrants

On Sunday, when Italy told the Aquarius not to proceed to ports in Sicily, Salvini first pushed Malta to accept the vessel, saying that the tiny European Union island country - in the middle of the Central Mediterranean migration corridor - routinely closes its doors.

The International Organization for Migration also said that while states are not forced to accept specific vessels, there is a collective duty to ensure a humane outcome.

It's not yet clear what Salvini and the new government have in mind, but it's worth remembering that the League's Roberto Maroni was interior minister in 2009 when Italy implemented its nefarious policy of literally pushing boats back to Libya.

The rescue mission has come amid forecasts of deteriorating weather conditions on the route to Valencia.

The French organisation said that 123 unaccompanied minors, 11 small children and seven pregnant women are among those brought on board.

Not everyone in Italy agreed with the government action, and the mayors of a number of southern cities, including Naples, Palermo and Messina, said they would welcome the migrants.

Malta had food and water ferried Monday to the Aquarius, which was running out of supplies.

"The situation is stable but it can not run" on forever, Laurent said. Many are suffering from fuel burns as a result, and most are dehydrated. "Keeping the rescued people at sea is not, of itself, going to dissuade other migrants from crossing to Europe and they too will need to be rescued sooner or later", he added.

A U.S. Navy ship, Trenton, radioed Sea Watch on Tuesday to say it had picked up 12 bodies and 41 survivors from a sinking rubber boat. "And, so, as we have raised the problem for the Aquarius, we'll do it for all the other boats". It's an argument that human rights advocates also have supported.

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Spain's offer is "important news, since it signals a turning point", Di Maio said.

Earlier, Aquarius crew member Alessandro Porro told news channel Sky TG24, that the ship was north of Malta and had "received no communications from the Maltese authorities". They were transferred to the Aquarius on Saturday before the standoff developed.

Italy, which has a new, anti-immigration government, suggested that Malta take in the migrants.

"It is our obligation to help to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe and to offer a safe port to these people". On Sunday evening, he posted an image of himself on Twitter with his arms crossed above the message, "We are closing the ports", rendered as an Italian hashtag.

The passengers had been rescued in six different operations, according to SOS Mediterranée.

Under global law, people rescued at sea should be brought to the nearest and safest port for assistance. He thanked Spain for stepping in.

Doctors Without Borders, which has staff aboard the Aquarius, tweeted a video of some of the women aboard the ship praying on Monday morning, and said they were unaware of the diplomatic drama being waged on land over their fate.

Italy refused because some politicians there don't want the country to take in as many migrants as it has in the past. "Italy has stopped bowing our heads and obeying", Salvini said in a Facebook post.

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