Number 'in danger' on Open Arms rescue ship rises to 282

Catalan NGO saves another 45 people stranded in Mediterranean while still looking for safe harbour

Members of the band Sopa de Cabra standing on the Open Arms Sea Rescue ship (by Gemma Martz)
Members of the band Sopa de Cabra standing on the Open Arms Sea Rescue ship (by Gemma Martz) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

January 30, 2020 12:49 PM

Catalan NGO Open Arms reported on Twitter on Thursday that it had rescued another 45 people in the central Mediterranean Sea, taking the number "in danger" on board the ship to 282.

On Tuesday, the NGO initially reported it had rescued 56 people from a damaged boat with engine problems, a number that rose to 158 people, and then 237, that it said it had been saved “from probable death.

In a tweet, the organization said the latest 45 people it had rescued were in "poor physical condition" and included "wounded" and "a five-year-old boy," warning that there are cases that may need to be evacuated.

Yet, Open Arms also said that it had no safe harbor to take the people, after previously reporting that there are 500 more people on board other rescue ships, the Ocean Viking and Alan Kurdi, which also need safe harbor.

In November, Italy offered a safe port to the Open Arms ship after it saved 73 migrants shipwrecked in the western Mediterranean. That followed a months-long back and forth in summer 2019 when former Italian interior minister Matteo Salvini refused permission for Open Arms to dock in Italy. 

After some 19 days stranded in the Mediterranean with over 160 migrants on board, the Open Arms rescue ship was eventually allowed to dock in the Italian port of Lampedusa.

In September, the head of the Proactiva Open Arms NGO, Òscar Camps, was awarded the Catalan parliament's Medal of Honor, along with the captain of the Sea Watch 3 rescue ship, Carola Rackete.