TGCOM reports that sources close to the Spanish government said that Spain is maintaining a position where it would not be allowing the MV Aquarius in its harbour as its not the safest harbour closest to where the operation took place.
Updated with statement from Government of Malta:
The Government of Malta in a Press Release said that the latest rescue by NGO vessel MV Aquarius was made off the Libyan coast, closer to Libya, Tunisia and Italy (Lampedusa) in an operation which was coordinated by the Libyan authorities.
Malta was neither the coordinating nor the competent authority for such a rescue, and therefore has no legal obligation to make the arrangements to provide for a place of safety. The requests for such vessel to enter ports are unwarranted and without legal standing.
The Government of Malta is monitoring the situation and in touch with other authorities.
Meanwhile, the Maltese search and rescue authorities have today saved 114 migrants which were on a dinghy and in distress. Malta continues to abide by all applicable conventions while ensuring safety of life at sea at all times.
A spokesperson for the EU Commission said that the EU is in contact with a number of its member states to find a solution on the MV Aquarius issue. TGCOM
Earlier today, Interior Minister and Deputy Premier Matteo Salvini said Monday that the NGO-run migrant search-and-rescue ship Aquarius will not be allowed access to Italy’s ports. “Aquarius NGO ship with another 141 immigrants on board: German owned, rented by French NGO, foreign crew, in Maltese waters, flying the flag of Gibraltar,” Salvini said via Twitter.
“It can go where it wants, (but) not to Italy! Stop human being traffickers and accomplices, #portsclosed and #openhearts”.
Salvini, the leader of the rightwing League party, has spearheaded the new Italian government’s tough stance on migration which was seen NGO search-and-rescue vessels denied access to Italy’s ports. The Aquarius, rented by the SOS Mediterranee NGO and managed in partnership with Doctors Without Borders (MSF), was at the centre of international spat in June when Italy and Malta both refused to lot it dock.
It ended up having to go to Spain with over 600 migrants it rescued transported with the help of an Italian escort.