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Aquarius route changed - SOS Mediterranee (4)

Italian govt sources rule out migrant-ship docking in Italy

Aquarius route changed - SOS Mediterranee (4)

Rome, June 14 - The Aquarius has had to change route due to bad weather, SOS Mediterranee, the NGO that operates the migrant-rescue ship, said on Thursday. Italian government sources said, however, that the ship Aquarius will dock in Spain as planned, ruling out the hypothesis that it would land in Italy. "#Dattilo, the leading Italian coastguard ship of our convoy, decided to change route," SOS Mediterranee said via Twitter. "#Aquarius will proceed along the eastern coast of #Sardinia to seek shelter from bad weather, otherwise unbearable for the rescued people, already exhausted, shocked and seasick". The Aquarius was on its way to Valencia with an escort of two Italian ships after the Italian government denied it access to its ports at the weekend in a case that has caused political tension in Europe. Most of the over 600 migrants who are on board the Aquarius have been transferred to the escort vessels. European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini said Thursday that she thinks the Aquarius should be at sea as little as possible given adverse weather conditions. "The identification of the disembarkation port is a national decision upon which the EU does not have competence," Mogherini told a news conference when asked about the Aquarius case. "But given the news about the sea conditions, there is a clear indication (in international law) for every effort to limit the time of the people aboard the ship". Mogherini said the long-term solution was for EU member States to display greater solidarity. "There is a problem about the re-financing of the European Fund for Africa," she said, adding that projects for Libya and the countries of origin of many migrants and of transit depended on this. "It's a problem that I've raised several times with the member States and which it is necessary to draw attention to because, and here I comment on the Aquarius case too, the priority at sea is to save lives, but the solution is on land. "It's in Europe, with stronger, more effective solidarity among States".

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