A rescue boat carrying hundreds of migrants, most of them Sub-Saharan Africans, docked in Spain Sunday after being denied permission to dock in Italy by the country's new populist coalition government, elected in part because of anger over the effects of the European Union's asylum policy. Malta also rejected the ship.
Managed by Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and another aid group called SOS Mediterranee, the Aquarius initially headed to Italy after rescuing migrants off the coast of Libya. The journey from its intended docking point to Spain took a week, and several other ships, including an Italian coast guard boat, took on some of the 629 migrants to make the trip safer.
"This sad odyssey of the people on the Aquarius is another reminder that all people, regardless of their nationality or immigration status, should have access to basic assistance and protection," said Red Cross Secretary General Elhadj As Sy, who was on hand for the ship's arrival. "No human being is 'illegal,' and people who need help should receive help."