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    A migrant, who is part of a group intercepted aboard a dinghy off the coast in the Mediterranean sea, reacts on a rescue boat upon arriving at a port in Malaga, Spain August 7, 2017

    Spain Cannot Turn Into 'Europe’s Sea Rescue Organization' – Development Minister

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    MADRID (Sputnik) – The Spanish authorities cannot perform the functions of an EU organization that rescues migrants and asylum seekers at sea, especially not on its own, Spanish Development Minister Jose Luis Abalos said on Monday in the wake of the incident around the Aquarius rescue ship.

    "Spain is trying to consider this [migration] issue from a humanitarian point of view, given the tragedy which these peoples are going through. But turning into a pan-European organization for rescue at sea is another thing. Yes, we have ports – Barcelona, Valencia, Palma – but Spain cannot take this responsibility alone," Abalos said in an interview with the Cadena Ser broadcaster.

    The situation around the Aquarius, which had been stranded in the Mediterranean Sea with hundreds of rescued migrants on board for several days before docking in Spain, attracted the European Union's attention, Abalos continued.

    READ MORE: EU Rejected Proposal to Set Up External Migrant Disembarkation Centers — EC

    The official called for differentiating between an emergency humanitarian situation, like the Aquarius incident, and broader measures to tackle the EU migration crisis.

    Speaking about the so-called regional landing platforms, one of the European Union's migration initiatives, which would allow economic migrants to be distinguished quicker than those requiring international protection, Abalos noted that such centers should be "more decent" than existing migrant detention centers in Spain.

    The situation around the Aquarius developed earlier in June when both Italy and Malta refused to allow the vessel, carrying over 600 rescued migrants and asylum-seekers, to dock. After Spain and Corsica expressed readiness to accommodate the ship, the Aquarius started making its way to the Spanish port of Valencia. However, it took days and additional resources to bring the ship to Spain since Valencia was not the safest or closest port of call.

    READ MORE: European Commissioner Backs Sanctions on EU States Denying Asylum to Migrants

    Moreover, media reported on Sunday that Spanish authorities had rescued 569 migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea from Northern Africa.

    Spain has been one of the EU countries that have faced a significant influx of Middle Eastern and Northern African migrants coming to Europe. Since the beginning of this year, 12,155 migrants and asylum seekers entered the country by sea, according to UN figures.


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