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Migrants' joy as Aquarius arrives in Spain after Italian snub

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Migrants' joy as Aquarius arrives in Spain after Italian snub

Migrants' joy as Aquarius arrives in Spain after Italian snub
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The migrant rescue boat Aquarius has arrived in Spain this morning with 106 migrants on board.

Spain swooped to offer safe harbour to a convoy of boats, carrying a total of 629 rescued migrants, after they had been turned away from Italy and Malta.

The migrants had been rescued from unstable boats off the coast of Libya.

Euronews' Anelise Borges is the only broadcast journalist aboard Aquarius and has been sending regular updates about life on the ship.

Authorities said all seven pregnant women on board the three ships were taken for check-ups, and all the arrivals, including 123 children, will receive psychological help.

Aquarius appears to be symptomatic of a shift in emphasis for EU-bound migrants.

As anti-migrant feeling has surged in Italy — helping to propel a populist coalition to power — where more than 600,000 people have arrived by sea over the past five years.

Far fewer have come to Spain, but the numbers are rising fast. Spain's coast guard rescued almost 1,000 people on Friday and Saturday.

Most Spaniards support the idea of welcoming and helping to integrate refugees, pollsters say. That allowed new Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, a socialist, to offer migrant-friendly policies to voters who felt previous governments did not do enough .

France, which criticised Italy for turning away the Aquarius, has offered to take in any passengers who qualify for asylum and want to go there.

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