Sea-Watch restarts rescue missions after four-month Malta blockade

Humanitarian ship Sea-Watch 3 has returned to the Libyan search and rescue zone after having been detained in Malta for almost four months

The Sea-Watch 3 on its way to the search and rescue zone off Libya
The Sea-Watch 3 on its way to the search and rescue zone off Libya

Sea-Watch has restarted its search and rescue missions off Libya, after having been detained in Malta for almost four months.

The humanitarian ship had been prevented from departing from Malta after a dispute between European Union member states over the fate of a group of migrants rescued by the vessel the MV Lifeline.

It was granted permission to leave the island’s port in late October.

In a statement, the NGO said that the Sea-Watch 3, together with Spanish organisation Open Arms and its Italian partner Mediterranean - constituting a fleet of three ships - will be carrying out a joint search and rescue operation in the central Mediterranean.

They will also be documenting human rights violations, and will be supported by the Moonbird reconnaissance aircraft.

“EU states are haggling over the distribution of single rescued persons, while the death rate in the central Mediterranean rose to a record high in September. We are setting a good example and giving a European response to the state-imposed state of emergency in the Mediterranean, which is committed to the ideals of solidarity and human rights,” Sea-Watch 3 Head of Operations Johannes Bayer said.

“In view of the declining number of arrivals, the issue is not whether Europe can cope with the numbers, but whether it can still muster enough humanity to simply prevent people from drowning,” he stressed.

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