Spain prevents NGO rescue boat from sailing

Open Arms Image: MarineTraffic.com/Wojtek Zientara Open Arms

A rescue vessel operated by the non-government organisation (NGO) Proactiva Open Arms has been denied permission to set sail for the Mediterranean Sea on the order of Spanish authorities.

The 36- by 9.5-metre Open Arms has been docked in Barcelona since December 28, 2018, after having rescued more than 300 refugees and migrants in the waters off Libya a week prior.

The vessel had been due to set sail again on January 8 to conduct more rescues in the Mediterranean but was prohibited from doing so by Spain’s Development Ministry.

Proactiva Open Arms founder Oscar Campos denounced the decision as “cruel and irresponsible.” However, the Directorate General of Merchant Marine, a sub-agency of the Development Ministry, defended its decision, citing the Open Arms crew’s numerous violations of international laws pertaining to passenger and crew safety during rescues at sea.

Proactiva Open Arms continues to appeal the decision that is preventing the vessel from leaving Barcelona.

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