Open Arms ship docked in Italy sails again

Catalan NGO to resume refugee rescue operation a month later

Proactiva Open Arms' refugee rescue ship (behind) (by Reuters / Antonio Parrinello)
Proactiva Open Arms' refugee rescue ship (behind) (by Reuters / Antonio Parrinello) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

April 20, 2018 01:13 PM

Proactiva Open Arms’ refugee rescue ship has left the port in Pozzallo, Sicily, a month after a local prosecutor ordered it blocked over allegations of fostering illegal immigration and criminal association.

“The most awaited moment. Freed Open Arms set sail from Pozzallo. A month docked, a month that made us stronger. Now we really are a united crowd which has shown to the world that saving lives is not a crime," said the Catalan NGO via Twitter on Friday.

A court in Italy decided to release the NGO’s ship on Monday. The prosecutor had opened an investigation against crew members and ordered the ship to be docked a month ago, following a rescue operation in which 216 people were saved from drowning in the Mediterranean. Open Arms was accused of failing to comply with orders from Libyan coastguards who wanted to return those on board to African soil.

Òscar Camps, founder of the organization, criticized the European Commission for failing to act on the refugee crisis, accusing the EU body of being “absolutely out of moral limits.”

Open Arms has rescued more than 26,500 people from drowning in the sea since starting its mission in the central Mediterranean in 2016, according to figures facilitated by the NGO.

Camps said that the ship docked in Italy will need to undergo some repairs before being used for further sea rescue operations. Once that happens, the NGO will have two ships at its disposal for such operations, after a second boat left the port in Barcelona on Monday.

Open Arms will soon combine sea rescue with a newly disclosed awareness program that takes the bid to save refugee lives further south. The NGO decided to launch a new line of action consisting on warning people in sub-Saharan countries of the dangers that the route to Europe entails.