The Alicante city council, comprised of a PP and Ciudadanos coalition, has refused a request to offer the city port to the charity Española Proactiva Open Arms after it called for a safe port in which to dock, following the rescue of more than 120 migrants at sea, including two children and nine-month-old twins.
On Sunday the NGO made an urgent appeal for a safe harbour in which to take the migrants after Italy’s refusal to allow them to disembark on the Italian island of Lampedusa.
Alicante’s PP spokesperson, Julia Llopis, the Councillor for Social Action, said that she was willing to collaborate “if they make a direct appeal, or if requested to do so by central government” but she stressed that “the City Council should be focussed on solving the problems of its own citizens living in Alicante before opening the door to others.”
She did acknowledge, however, that In the boat there are people fleeing war, poverty and famine and during their passage through Libya to reach Europe, in many cases, they have suffered terrible episodes of violence.
However the position of the Alicante government is at complete opposites with it’s northern neighbour, the city of Valencia, where the mayor, Joan Ribó (Compromís), has offered the port to the 121 people aboard the Open Arms. For Ribó, Valencia is «a city of welcome, open and with an ethical and human duty to the people who have risked their lives fleeing terror, war or misery».
Ribó, has said he will ask the Spanish government for permission to allow the boat to dock in the city port. The premier of Valencia, Ximo Puig, PSOE, said the region is willing to welcome Open Arms “if the ship does not find a closer or more appropriate port.”