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+++ Aquarius ship: Archdiocese of Valencia willing to receive 200 refugees +++

(Foto: AFP/SIR)

The Archdiocese of Valencia in Spain is willing to accommodate up to 200 people aboard the Aquarius ship in houses, shopping malls, schools, parishes and families. In light of the situation, Cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera has set up a Coordination Group to identify all available resources in the diocese and assist migrants in their basic needs, education and human development. Before the arrival of the ship, which is expected between Saturday and Sunday, meetings are taking place between the local authorities and civil society organizations to plan the reception of the ship of the NGO “SOS Méditerranée”. The vessel rescued 629 people, including 123 children, on Saturday, but was denied access to Italian ports by Italy’s Interior Ministry. Many migrants were transferred to two Italian military ships to allow the Aquarius to sail safely. The military ships will escort the Aquarius to the port of Valencia. Upon arrival in Valencia, people will first undergo medical checks (run by Caritas). Then local authorities will start the identification procedures and other administrative procedures for the recognition of the refugee status. “There will be another meeting next week, and then we will start to accommodate these people, but we still do not know if they will send us adults, children, pregnant women, women with children, or sick people”, the Archdiocese of Valencia told SIR news agency. “We do not even know if these people will remain in Valencia at all, or if they will be relocated to other autonomous communities. What is clear is that we want to accommodate up to 200 people. We will try to match reception places with the profile of people”. Following the appeal made by the Archbishop of Valencia, Cardinal Antonio Cañizares, “we had an impressive response from the people: they called us – individuals, families, priests”, the Archdiocese explains. “We already have a lot of experience in this field because in our school, we welcome people from 24 different nationalities and many Muslim children”. “The Diocesan Catholic University will be able to help with the language”. This is not the first time that a boat carrying migrants arrives in Valencia: “Last year, in 2017, the city received 25,000 migrants. There is already a network that works here, and we, as a Church, contribute our assistance”.

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