No fewer than 600 migrants arrived in the port of Valencia, Spain, on Sunday after being rescued at sea and turned away from Italy and Malta.
The Aquarius rescue ship and two Italian Navy Vessels carrying 630 migrants from 26 countries, mostly Sudan, docked in the harbor in Valencia as interpreters and Red Cross workers were on the scene to offer support.
The Dattilo, one of the Italian coast guard ships, was the first to enter the port, carrying 274 migrants. It was followed by the Aquarius, which brought in another 106 migrants, before the second Italian ship docked with the rest of the migrants.
Spanish medical staff boarded the Dattilo to conduct preliminary health checks and police began registering the first immigrants at around 7 a.m. as they were allowed to disembark, according to the New York Times.
Some of the migrants are expected to be transferred to France, where the government welcomed passengers from the Aquarius.
About a week ago, Spain agreed to accept the migrants who were stranded at seas for days.
“It is our obligation to help avoid a humanitarian catastrophe and offer a safe port to these people, as such meeting with the obligations of international law,” Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said Monday.
They had previously been ordered to standby about 30 nautical miles off the Italian and Maltese coasts, and were ultimately turned away.
Italy’s interior minister, Matteo Salvini, said two other ships bearing the flag of the Netherlands had reached the coast of Libya and warned Italy would also block their entry.
“These gentlemen know that Italy no longer wants to be complicit in the business of illegal immigration, and therefore will have to look for other ports where to go,” Salvini said.