Majority of French reject safe harbour for Aquarius: Poll

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.

Local leaders on the French island of Corsica had offered to welcome the Aquarius, but the move was slapped down by the central government, which argued that under international law the ship had to dock at the closest port.

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.

The OpinionWay poll was carried out among 1,020 adults online from June 13-15.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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