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Migrant rescue ship turned away from Italy taken in by Spain

Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini. Photo: Corbis/Getty Images

Spain's Prime Minister announced Monday that his country would take in a stranded ship with 629 immigrants on board after Italy's new populist, right-wing government blocked it from docking on its shores.

Why it matters: This is the first concrete action from Matteo Salvini, the leader of the far-right League party and Italy's new Interior Minister, to back up his anti-immigration rhetoric. Salvini tweeted about the ship several times yesterday and called Spain's move a "victory." Salvini has indicated he plans to turn away such ships in the future as well, which could lead to a humanitarian crisis in Europe. An estimated 3,100 migrants died at sea trying to cross from North Africa to Europe last year.

How we got here:

  • SOS Méditerranée, a European humanitarian group, initiated the rescue mission in Libya. The 629 migrants included 123 unaccompanied minors and seven pregnant women, according to the BBC.
  • The ship —The Aquarius — was blocked from docking at Italy's ports, with Salvini tweeting "Italy is done bending over backwards and obeying - this time THERE IS SOMEONE WHO SAYS NO," adding #closethedoors.
  • By Monday, supplies were running low and Malta had also refused to accept the immigrants. New Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez announced that the ship would be allowed to dock in Valencia.
  • Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte thanked Spain for the “gesture of solidarity,” according to the Guardian.