Approximately 600 refugees who were denied entry into Italy have finally arrived in Valencia, Spain.
The refugees, primarily hailing from countries in Africa, were blocked by the new right-wing Italian government from entering the country, forcing them to re-route to Spain.
They were stranded at sea for more than a week before undertaking the multi-day journey by sea to Valencia.
The ship, owned and operated by the MV Aquarius charity, was carrying 100 children and seven pregnant women when denied entry. The Aquarius is operated by Til Rummenhohl, the vice president of SOS Mediterranee, alongside Doctors Without Borders.
By the time the ship made port, its passengers were in a miserable state — the Aquarius is not designed to accommodate a large number of passengers for more than four days.
In a notable display of empathy, compassion, and humanity — all of which are becoming increasingly rare in today’s world — more than 2,300 people gathered to assist the new arrivals, including 1,000 Red Cross volunteers, 400 translators, and approximately 450 national police and civil guards.
The immigrants come from more than 20 different countries, though the majority are from sub-Saharan Africa.
Spanish authorities have promised that each individual will remain with the same translator throughout the entire registration process, which can last multiple weeks.
The 600-odd immigrants were turned away from Italy by newly elected far-right interior minister Matteo Salvini. The incident has kicked off a diplomatic battle with France as well as widespread condemnation, and Salvini says that he will also reject two incoming Dutch rescue boats performing rescue operations off the coast of Libya.
“Two other ships with the flag of Netherlands, Lifeline and Seefuchs, have arrived off the coast of Libya, waiting for their load of human beings abandoned by the smugglers.” — Salvini on his Facebook page
To read the life stories of some of the refugees aboard the Aquarius, click here.