RESCUE ship Open Arms has docked in Spain after failing to gain permission to land 308 migrants in Italy, Malta and France.
Some 30 Red Cross volunteers were on hand to help the migrants – 179 of whom were children – with medical check-ups. Shoes clothes and blankets were also handed out.
After seven days at sea the Open Arms arrived yesterday (Friday December 28) at the port of Crinavis, in San Roque (Cadiz).
They come from 19 countries: “More than a hundred are from Somalia, 62 from Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Eritrea, Egypt, Sudan, Palestine. They have fled their countries because of war, human rights violations… Many of the Somalis are skin and bone, it’s terrible,” said Laura Lanuza, spokeswoman for Open Arms.
Also on the scene was Manuel Sobrinos of Save the Children. Speaking to the Spanish press he said: “Of the minors, more than a hundred have come alone, without accompaniment, especially Somali adolescents.
“There are strong indications that many of the Somali teenage girls have been sexually abused along the way. Unfortunately, it is commonplace. In fact, the rare thing is that they haven’t been raped”, explained Sobrino, of the NGO team in Algeciras.
Vicente Raimundo, Save the Children’s Director of Programmes in Spain added: “Many children migrate alone, face abuse and violence and do not have access to basic services such as medical care and schooling in their places of origin. Spain has registered almost 12,000 migrant children who have arrived alone in our country in the last year.”
The migrants had been rescued from three separate boats in imminent danger of sinking off the coast of Libya. According to the ship’s captain they would almost certainly have all drowned without the intervention of Open Arms.
The Spanish government gave the ship permission to enter Spanish waters after it was turned away by nearer countries, meaning a seven day voyage for the migrants.
Open Arms has now left San Roque and is heading for its home port of Barcelona.
According to the latest data from the Ministry of the Interior, 55,621 irregular migrants have arrived in Spain by boat up to December 16, 161.6 per cent more than in 2017. By land: 6,505, 8.5 per cent more than last year.
— Proactiva Open Arms ENG (@openarms_found) December 28, 2018