Hundreds of migrants from Aquarius ship arrive in Spain

Spain rescues more than 900 boat migrants, finds 4 bodies

Italy's closure of its ports to the migrant rescue ship Aquarius, which was carrying 620 people, triggered warnings from aid agencies of a deadly summer at sea for people trying to cross the Mediterranean.

The ship was held for two days between Malta and the Italian island of Sicily after the latter nation's Interior Minister, Matteo Salvini, refused to allow it to dock.

More than 1.8 million migrants have arrived in Europe since 2014, and Italy is now sheltering more than 170,000 asylum seekers, as well as an estimated 500,000 unregistered migrants.

That could mean the expulsion of those people who do not have a legal right to claim asylum.

He had initially offered some mild criticism of the Italian government's handling of the Aquarius crisis.

In his speech, Francis lamented how many people in the world are excluded from work because of war or environmental degradation and said that those living comfortable lives should seek to help them. 229 other migrants were rescued from unseaworthy boats or from the water by the ship's rescue crews.

Pope Francis says that the Gospel teaches that it's wrong to leave migrants "at the mercy of the waves", an apparent critique of Italy's new migration policies.

Spain eventually agreed to take them in. "(The EU) must recognize that it needs an immigration policy that these times require".

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Speaking during an interview on One Radio, Muscat explained that the decision to deny the request by Italian authorities to take the ship was not an act of "playing tough", but that the country was simply not responsible for it.

Uniformed police looked on as officials in white overalls and protective masks greeted the first migrants to step off the boat.

And French deputy prime minister Carmen Calvo said some of the 629 refugees could settle in France. I took the decision that they can not come in because it was not our responsibility.

The migrants' tumultuous journey began last weekend, when they left Libya for Europe crammed onto inflatable boats. The trip to the Spanish port took almost a week.

The new rightwing and anti-immigrant Italian government last week banned the French NGO operated vessel the Aquarius, with more than 600 rescued migrants on board, from docking in Italy, causing uproar and a sharp row with France.

A U.S. Navy ship was also on the scene, but according to Lifeline, the Italian coastguard ordered the migrants to be placed on the cargo vessel, which is headed for the Libyan port of Misrata.

The head of Doctors Without Borders in Spain says he's glad that Spain has allowed an aid convoy with 630 migrants to dock but he's anxious about European nations closing their ports to those rescued at sea.

The refusal by Italy and Malta to allow the Aquarius to enter their ports has reignited a continentwide battle over how to handle immigration. The journey to Valencia took almost a week.

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David Noguera told The Associated Press: "I have mixed feelings".

The ship carried 629 people it had rescued off the coast of Libya and spent almost a week at sea as Italy's new government banned it from docking.

Two days later, Spain stepped in and offered to grant the migrants entry at Valencia, some 1,500 kilometers (930 miles) away.

The migrants were met by emergency workers (pictured bottom right) including health officials and psychologists, at the city's marina.

All seven pregnant women on board the ships will be immediately taken for check-ups, and all the arrivals, including 123 minors, will receive psychological help.

Spain says that it has accepted an offer by the French government to take in some of hundreds of migrants set to arrive on the aid boat Aquarius.

Macron's office said the discussions will focus on migrant-related issues and other major European topics ahead of an EU summit at the end of the month.

Spain's Foreign Minister Josep Borrell arrives to attend the first Cabinet meeting at the Moncloa Palace in Madrid, June 8, 2018.

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