Open Arms refugee rescue ship begins first mission after lockdown

NGO spent confinement months carrying out repairs on board and helping face the health emergency

Image of Open Arms' Astral ship, in the port of Badalona, on August 28, 2019 (by Jordi Pujolar)
Image of Open Arms' Astral ship, in the port of Badalona, on August 28, 2019 (by Jordi Pujolar) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

August 20, 2020 02:13 PM

A ship of the Catalan refugee rescue NGO Open Arms began its first mission after lockdown on Wednesday.

The charity's Astral boat set sail toward the Central Mediterranean from the port of Badalona in an observation and surveillance mission for the next few weeks.

"All this time boats have continued to arrive and shipwreck," said the organization's founder, Òscar Camps in a video aboard Astral. "Now there are 100 people missing, we do not know anything about them, it would be the second shipwreck in a week. There's not much information about it."

"Over 1,000 people have already died [due to shipwrecks in the area] this year, and with very little real information," he added.

The NGO has denounced a recent "inhumane" agreement between Libyan, Italian, and Maltese governments that, according to Open Arms, "abandons [those fleeing Libya] in international waters without complying with international treaties and maritime laws for the protection of human life in the maritime environment."

Astral has spent some months undergoing repairs and has also been monitoring the arrivals of migrants to the Canary Islands.

This boat's mission will precede one of the charity's flagship vessels, Open Arms, which will also leave for the Central Mediterranean from the Valencian port of Burriana in a few days.

During lockdown, Open Arms has also been helping to tackle the health emergency in Catalonia, especially conducting Covid-19 tests and collecting samples in care homes.

In April, they said that 30 vehicles and more than 70 volunteers from Open Arms were traveling to such centers to help elderly people face the crisis.