Rescued migrants escaping North Africa expected to arrive Sunday in Spain

Rescue boat the Aquarius

More than 600 migrants who were stranded on a ship in the Mediterranean Sea have arrived in Valencia, Spain.

No serious illness was reported among the migrants, who included seven pregnant women and 123 minors, but many had suffered burns and fatigue.

Under the EU's asylum laws - now the subject of a major political dispute and under revision - migrants must apply for asylum in the country where they first enter Europe. Majority from Africa but others are from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh, according to medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières.

Abalos said the Spanish government "will act with sensitivity and at the same time within the law, and with a message to Europe that it doesn't have an immigration policy up to the challenge at hand".

The vessel, called Aquarius and due to dock in Valencia on Sunday, is now under escort from a Spanish navy patrol boat, the government in Madrid said in emailed statements on Saturday.

The ship carried 629 people it had rescued off the coast of Libya and spent almost a week at sea as Italy's new government banned it from docking.

The migrants, who doctors say are "exhausted and stressed", have been greeted in Valencia with a big "Welcome Home" sign in various languages.

A ship transporting 630 migrants to safety has docked in Spain.

On Saturday, the Spanish government announced it would transfer to France any migrants arriving on the convoy who expressed a desire to reach that country.

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Migrants sing on the deck of MV Aquarius, a search and rescue ship run in partnership between SOS Mediterranee and Doctors Without Borders on their way to Spain, June 16, 2018. It took the convoy almost a week to travel the 930 miles between Sicily and Spain.

Two countries will "work together" to handle the arrival, Spain's deputy prime minister Carmen Calvo said.

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat this morning said that he would "have been the first" to allow Aquarius to harbor in Malta if worldwide law stated that it was Malta's responsibility to do so.

Red Cross tents are installed at Valencia's harbour for the reception of migrants rescued by the Aquarius rescue ship.

Spain's new Socialist government has taken up the cause of the migrants to demonstrate its commitment to protecting human rights. "Two other ships with the flag of Netherlands - Lifeline and Seefuchs - have arrived off the coast of Libya, waiting for their load of human beings abandoned by the smugglers", Salvini wrote Saturday on his Facebook account.

"These people should know that Italy no longer wants to be any part of this business of clandestine immigration and they will have to look for other ports to go to", he said.

She added that in Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel, who had opened the country up to refugees, today faces "a serious internal crisis" where her interior minister Horst Seehofer takes a hard line against her.

French President Emmanuel Macron and new Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte meet Friday amid tensions between the two countries over migration. A private aid ship said it couldn't assume the unexpected passengers from Trenton because Italy wasn't assigning it a port within its navigational capacity.

They also demanded "profound" changes to the European Union asylum rules which put the migrant burden on their country of entry to Europe - mainly Italy and Greece.

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