Spanish authorities stop migrant rescue NGO from Mediterranean operation

PHOTO CREDIT: Proactiva Open Arms/Twitter
PHOTO CREDIT: Proactiva Open Arms/ Twitter

Proactiva Open Arms, a Spanish migrant rescue boat on Monday said it has been blocked by the Barcelona Maritime Authority from operating in the Mediterranean.

According to Barcelona Maritime Authority in a letter to the non-governmental organisation (NGO), Open Arms failed to ensure that rescued migrants were disembarked as quickly as possible by not taking them to the closest port, leading to their long stay at sea.

It reads, “Measures were not taken to ensure the disembarkment took place as quickly as reasonably possible. In contrast, the boat had to wait with a large number of people on board and subsequently travel for several days crossing the Mediterranean to arrive to a safe port.”

The maritime agency added that the migrant rescue charity will not be granted permission to resume rescue operations until an agreement with the authorities on relevant search and rescue zones.

Open Arms, which operates in the waters between southern Europe and Libya, has previously travelled to Spain to disembark migrants after being refused permission to do so in Italy and Malta.

The NGO said it had appealed the decision.

“Preventing us from saving lives is irresponsible and cruel. Cowardly politicians have set the counter of deaths running,” Open Arms founder, Oscar Camps, wrote on Twitter on Monday.