Children play on migrant rescue boat headed for Spain

Spain's minority Socialist government has accepted hundreds rescued by Spanish charity this year


Reuters December 27, 2018
PHOTO: REUTERS

MADRID: Children smiled, laughed and ate chocolate on board the boat that rescued them and other migrants from the Mediterranean Sea last week as charity workers showed them maps of Spain, where they are due to reach land on Friday.

The Spanish charity Proactiva Open Arms rescued more than 300 people off the coast of Libya late last Friday. Its vessel was refused entry by several European countries, including Malta and Italy, but Spain agreed to receive them.

The boat is due into the southern port of Algeciras at 0700 GMT on Friday, a charity worker said in the video message from the deck.

Meanwhile, as the children played, colleagues handed out maps of Africa to the adults rescued, asking them to show the journeys they made as they tried to reach a better life in Europe, the charity footage showed.

Most of the migrants are African. A mother and her newborn baby were taken by helicopter to Malta on Saturday.

Spain NGO ship saves 59 migrants, Italy refuses access

Illegal immigration to Europe by sea has fallen sharply overall since 2016 but arrivals in Spain have more than doubled annually to the rate of more than 1,000 people per week this year.

Spain's minority Socialist government has accepted hundreds rescued by the Spanish charity this year who were rejected by Italy and Malta.

The Socialists lost power in the southern region of Andalusia in local elections earlier this month, with the Vox party who campaigned on an anti-immigration ticket winning seats in the first electoral success for the far right since the country's return to democracy.

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