Half of Aquarius migrants ‘seek asylum in France’: Spanish govt

Photo showing Migrants disembark from the Aquarius rescue ship after arriving to port in Valencia, Spain, June 17, 2018. (Reuters)
Updated 18 June 2018
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Half of Aquarius migrants ‘seek asylum in France’: Spanish govt

MADRID: Almost half of the 630 migrants that were rescued from the Mediterranean and arrived in Spain’s port of Valencia at the weekend want to seek asylum in France, the Spanish government said Monday.
The migrants arrived in Spain on Sunday in three vessels, including the rescue ship Aquarius, after being turned away by Italy and Malta last week.
“Almost half the migrants have shown their willingness to seek asylum in France, which offered to welcome some of the people traveling on the ship,” Spain’s new socialist government said in a statement.
The majority of the 630 migrants are from Africa, including 450 men and 80 women, of which at least seven are pregnant, as well as 89 adolescents and 11 children under the age of 13, according to the Valencia authorities.
The Aquarius, run by French charity SOS Mediterranee, rescued them off Libya’s coast on June 9 and Italy and Malta’s refusal to let the ship dock led to an international outcry before Spain stepped in to help.
Madrid on Saturday said it had accepted an offer from France — who had angered Rome by branding it irresponsible — to welcome Aquarius migrants who “meet the criteria for asylum.”
France will examine asylum requests from Aquarius migrants who want to come over from Spain on a “case-by-case basis,” government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux said Sunday, adding it was “impossible” to know how many will arrive.


Pascal Brice, director-general of France’s refugee protection office Ofpra, told AFP that one of his teams would travel to Valencia soon.
“As soon as the Spanish authorities have informed us of the number of people concerned, a team from Ofpra will go on site to conduct the interviews and ensure that people are covered by the right to asylum,” he said, adding that the process should take place this week.
Local leaders on the French island of Corsica had offered to welcome the Aquarius, but the move was slapped down by the central government, which argued that under international law the ship had to dock at the closest port.
A majority of the French public, 56 percent, back the government’s decision, an opinion poll released Monday showed.
In Spain the migrants were granted authorization to remain in the country for 45 days while each individual’s legal case is studied.
Those who file a demand for asylum will be able to stay in the country while immigration services consider their request, a process that takes up to six months, said Paloma Favieres of the Spanish Commission for Refugees (CEAR).


Somalia’s Al-Shabab storm military base in country’s south, kill 27 soldiers

Updated 24 min 16 sec ago
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Somalia’s Al-Shabab storm military base in country’s south, kill 27 soldiers

  • The base is some 50 km (31 miles) away from the port city of Kismayu
  • Al Shabab attacked the same base in June, wounding seven soldiers

MOGADISHU: Somalia’s Al-Shabab group said on Monday its fighters had attacked a military base in the south of the country, killing 27 soldiers.
“We first attacked the base with a suicide car bomb and then stormed. We killed 27 soldiers and took the base. Some soldiers fled into the jungles,” Abdiasis Abu Musab, Al-Shabab’s military operation spokesman said.
The base is some 50 km (31 miles) away from the port city of Kismayu. There was no immediate comment from government official on the attack.
Al Shabab fights to topple Somalia’s central government and impose its a rule based on its own strict interpretation of Islam’s Sharia law.
Al Shabab attacked the same base in June, wounding seven soldiers.