Majority of French citizens reject safe harbour for Aquarius

Vastavam web: A majority of French citizens support the government’s decision not to offer safe harbour to a ship carrying 630 rescued migrants after Italy refused to let it dock, an opinion poll released today showed.Fifty-six per cent of respondents said they backed the government, while 42 per cent said it should have offered to let the ship dock, according to the OpinionWay poll. The Aquarius, run by French charity SOS Mediterranee, was eventually allowed to dock in Spain yesterday after being stranded for days, while both Italy and Malta refused to let the migrants ashore. Tensions flared after President Emmanuel Macron accused Rome of “irresponsibility”, although he later said he had not meant to offend France’s southern neighbour.

Macron is under pressure to close down migration routes from Africa amid strong anti-immigration sentiment in his country. France has said it will examine asylum requests from Aquarius migrants who want to come over from Spain on a “case-by-case basis”, government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux said yesterday, although he did not know how many might make the requests. Rome’s decision put the migrant influx back to the fore ahead of a EU summit on June 28-29, where leaders are supposed to hammer out an overhaul of the bloc’s asylum rules.