Proactiva Open Arms, a Spanish NGO devoted to search and rescue at sea, said it had rescued 59 migrants as they tried to cross the Mediterranean from Libya.
The NGO said they would now dock in Spain after Malta and Italy refused access.
The news comes after a shipwreck resulting in the death of three babies and hundreds other went missing; a casualty Proactiva Open Arms said that could be avoided if actions were taken on time.
The Spanish Proactiva Open Arms said on Twitter that 59 refugees are on board their ship “heading for a secure port.”
Zatadiña, la mujer del pañuelo morado, nos preguntaba con miedo hace un rato que qué pasaría si España no les dejaba desembarcar. Que si podrían devolverla a Libia otra vez, su mayor miedo. Ahora ya tienen confirmado un puerto seguro. @openarms_fund pic.twitter.com/wNZ53ioZ34
— Gabriela Sánchez (@Gabriela_Schz) June 30, 2018
Italy’s The Local translated a tweet posted by Proactiva Open Arms: “Despite the hurdles, we continue to protect the right to life of invisible people. Their stories on what they experienced (in) Libya are terrifying.”
Meanwhile, Matteo Salvini, a hardline Interior Minister of Italy said on Facebook the Proactiva Open Arms boat reached inside Libya’s rescue operation zone before the Libyan coastguard.
“The nearest port is Malta, the organization and flag are Spanish: they can forget about coming to an Italian port,” Matteo Salvini added angering Malta’s Interior Minister Michael Farrugia.
The Interior Minister Malta retorted on Twitter that the refugees were “rescued between Libya and Italy’s Lampedusa,” The Local reported.
Gracias por hacer lo más difícil y lo más importante, salvar vidas, y gracias por no rendiros frente a políticas europeas crueles e inhumanas. Barcelona os espera con los brazos abiertos #welcomeOpenArms #BCNCiutatRefugi #WelcomeRefugees https://t.co/R8SNft4mTS
— Ada Colau (@AdaColau) June 30, 2018
The Local quoted Michael Farrugia as saying: “Stop spreading incorrect information by pointing the finger at Malta without any reason.”
Proactiva Open Arms said they will arrive in Barcelona where they had been given access by the Spanish authority.
The EU leaders have recently struck a deal after days of marathon discussion to set up secure centers for migrants in EU states to process asylum claims.
According to the new deal, controlled centers would be set up by EU states where the migrants whose claims were rejected would be returned, reported BBC.
Emmanuel Macron, the President of France, said the centers would be set up in the countries where the migrants arrive first.
"This new '#migration deal' is a deal in name only, not in substance. It treats #refugees and #migrants as pawns. There is no #refugeescrisis in #Europe, there is a crisis of the #EuropeanUnion." #DiEM25 co-founder @yanisvaroufakis #migrationEU #RefugeesWelcome pic.twitter.com/b3d15SqMHo
— DiEM25 (@DiEM_25) June 29, 2018
French President Macron said, “We have struck the right balance between responsibility and solidarity.”
Italy, the country where thousands of African migrants arrive, has welcomed the EU deal. Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said, “After this European summit, Europe is more responsible and offers more solidarity. Today Italy is no longer alone.”
The European Council President Donald Tusk said it was “too early to talk about a success”.
BBC quoted him as saying: “We have managed to reach an agreement in the European Council. But this is, in fact, the easiest part of the task, compared to what awaits us on the ground when we start implementing it.”