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Aid workers awaiting their arrival clapped and cheered as the first migrants walked down the gangway.

In this file photo taken on May 10, 2018 migrants stand on the deck of the French NGO's ship Aquarius, as it approaches the Italian coast.

Italy dispatched two ships Tuesday to help take 629 migrants stuck off its shores on the days-long voyage to Spain, after the new populist government refused them safe port in a dramatic bid to force Europe to share the burden of unrelenting arrivals.

High waves and winds had forced the convoy to take a detour on its 1,500-kilometre (930-mile) voyage to Spain.

A crew member of MV Open Arms, the search and rescue ship of Proactiva Open Arms, carries a migrant baby before passing it to crew members of MV Aquarius, a search and rescue ship run in partnership between SOS Mediterranee and Medecins Sans Frontieres, during a mid-sea transfer of migrants in the central Mediterranean off the coast of Libya, Dec. 16, 2017.

The head of Doctors Without Borders in Spain said he was glad that Spain had allowed the convoy to dock but he was anxious about European nations closing their ports to those rescued at sea. Each were assigned to a translator and authorities worked to determine their identities before they were sent to welcome centers.

As many as 356 officers were on hand to verify the identities and documents of the migrants, Spain's National Police force said on Twitter.

Salvini, leader of the anti-immigrant League, showed no sign Saturday of softening his position.

Countries have an obligation to host and protect asylum-seekers "according to worldwide law for refugees but also according to the principles of humanity", As Sy said.

Migrants on the Aquarius ship.

Spain's Foreign Minister Josep Borrell. At least 13,000 people have drowned trying to reach European shores. "(The EU) must recognize that it needs an immigration policy that these times require".

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Following Salvini's decision to prevent the Aquarius from docking, however, Malta quickly followed suit, leaving the vessel stranded at sea until Spain offered to take the ship.

Hundreds suffer injuries every year when they try to get onto European soil from Morocco.

David Noguera, the head of Doctors Without Borders in Spain, said he was glad Spain welcomed the ship's passengers, who were picked up off the coast of Libya.

"I am sure there is an obligation for Italy to take them because its closest safe harbour is Lampedusa".

Almost 1,000 migrants arrived Friday and Saturday in the south of Spain, the third busiest gateway for migrants into Europe after Italy and Greece.

The people spent nearly a week at sea after being rescued from inflatable boats off the coast of Libya.

"France will accept migrants who express the wish to go there" once they have been processed in Valencia.

He criticised other European Union nations on Sunday for not taking their fair share of refugees, and hoped Spain would "receive 66,000 other (migrants) and that the Portuguese, the Maltese and others could also receive them". France - which had angered Rome by branding it irresponsible over the vessel rejection - offered on Thursday to welcome those migrants who "meet the criteria for asylum".

But just two weeks before the self-imposed deadline of the June 28-29 EU summit in Brussels, EU countries remain deadlocked on how to relocate asylum seekers in the event of a new crisis.

The ship was held for two days between Malta and the Italian island of Sicily after the latter nation's Interior Minister, Matteo Salvini, refused to allow it to dock.


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