Open Arms ship defies ban and sets sail to rescue migrants in Mediterranean

NGO founder Òscar Camps: “I rather be in prison than complicit”

Open Arms vessel setting sail from Barcelona port on April 23, 2019 (by Miquel Codolar)
Open Arms vessel setting sail from Barcelona port on April 23, 2019 (by Miquel Codolar) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

June 28, 2019 01:05 PM

Despite being expressly prohibited from doing so, the Badalona-based migrant sea rescue organization Proactiva Open Arms has decided to set sail from Naples and embark on lifesaving missions off the coast of Libya after six months of refraining from doing so.

In a tweet on Wednesday, NGO founder Òscar Camps expressed his sadness over the deaths of Guatemalan refugee Óscar Alberto Martínez and his young daughter Valeria, who were pictured drowned following an attempt to cross the Río Grande between Texas and Mexico.

“This photo saddened me more than that of Aylan [the Syrian boy who was pictured drowned on a Turkish beach in 2015]. 6 months of being prohibited from leaving. We’re pulling up anchors and leaving. I rather be in prison than complicit.”

The Open Arms ship had previously been blockaded in the port of Barcelona for over 100 days before being authorized to carry humanitarian aid to the eastern Mediterranean, but the ban on taking part in migrant rescue operations was never lifted.

The ship had recently sailed to Naples as part of an awareness-raising campaign amid increased political backlash in Europe against migrants and migrant rescue, claiming that “not all of Italy is Salvini,” in reference to the country’s notoriously anti-migrant interior minister.

According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the Mediterranean has become the world’s deadliest border, with 597 recorded deaths between January 1 and June 28, 2019.