The first Italian government ship accompanying the migrant aid boat Aquarius has docked at the Spanish port of Valencia.
The Italian coast guard vessel Dattilo arrived just before 7am on Sunday. It will be followed by the Aquarius and another Italian navy ship, the Orione.
The Aquarius and the two Italian boats are carrying the 630 migrants rescued by the Aquarius while attempting the perilous crossing of the Mediterranean Sea last week.
The Aquarius, a boat operated by the aid groups SOS Mediterranee Sea and Doctors Without Borders, was stuck off the coast of Sicily last Saturday when Italy refused permission to dock and demanded Malta do so.
People hold a banner reading ‘We don’t want refugees’ during a demonstration called by the far-right political party Espana 2000 (E-2000) against the arrival of the Aquarius rescue ship in Valencia.
Malta refused and Spain stepped in and offered to grant them entry some 1,500 kilometers (930 miles) away.