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Spain welcomes migrants as the Aquarius docks in Valencia

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By Anelise Borges
Migrants say goodbye to the crew of the Aquarius
Migrants say goodbye to the crew of the Aquarius

After seven days at sea over 600 migrants waved goodbye to three ships including the Aquarius and set foot on Spanish soil in Valencia at the weekend

It marked the end of a long and sometimes dangerous journey that saw them turned away from Italy and Malta.

They were greeted by Red Cross workers and health officials. Interpreters were also on hand.

Many of the migrants had spent hours trying to get from Africa to Europe in rubber dinghies not fit for purpose.

Officials say they include 123 unaccompanied minors and seven pregnant women.

The migrants were given a crash course in EU immigration law before saying their final goodbyes and starting a new life in Europe.

"I hope the people on shore take care of them and take care of their dignity at the same time because they had a rough ride these ones," said Max Avis, Deputy SAR Coordinator

The passengers will now enter into the immigration process through the Spanish authorities.

The migrants come from 26 countries with the largest groups being Sudanese and Nigerian.

France has agreed to help deal with the migrants and take some of them in and Spain has said that any of them who want to go to France will be allowed to do so as long as they have a legitimate claim to asylum.

President Macron said Italy's decision to turn the Aquarius away was irresponsible, while the mayor of Valencia said it was inhuman.