UNHCR warns against repeat of Aquarius disembarkation standoff as boat arrives in Spain

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EYEAFRICA TV: Geneva: UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, applauds Spain for its actions today in bringing to an end a sea-rescue crisis on the Mediterranean after a ship, the Aquarius, was refused permission to land and disembark elsewhere more than 600 rescued people.

After spending over a week at sea, and with some having been transferred from the Aquarius to two Italian ships, the over 600 people were finally disembarked today in the port of Valencia, where their needs will be assessed, including identifying any who might be at risk and in need of international protection. UNHCR has offered support to the Spanish authorities.

 “We’re grateful this ordeal is over for all involved, but this incident is something that should never have happened in the first place,” said Filippo Grandi, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. “Rescue at sea is too important a principle to jeopardize, and any wavering about disembarkation presents grave peril not just to refugees and migrants but to anyone in difficulty at sea.”

UNHCR advocates for assured and predictable regional disembarkation in situations of rescue at sea – and following disembarkation, for proper responsibility sharing arrangements, to avoid situations in which countries are penalized by being left to manage processing and follow up alone. UNHCR is ready to work with States of the Mediterranean to achieve this.

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