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Lifeline acquires new vessel to rescue people at sea

Due to the unlawful obstruction by Malta and Italy, migrant rescue NGO says it will not provide further information before vessel is in international waters

MV Lifeline
Malta and Italy are impeding NGOs from saving lives at sea - Photo: Mission Lifeline / Hermine Poschmann

Mission Lifeline, whose rescue ship was impounded by the Maltese government has acquired a new vessel thanks to donations it received from supporters.

The migrant rescue NGO found a way to circumvent what it described as “unlawful obstruction” by acquiring a new vessel which will be used to rescue people at sea.

More than 1,500 refugees and migrants have lost their lives attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea in the first seven months of this year – around 850 died in June and July alone.

Mission Lifeline tweeted that it has found a replacement ship and “due to the unlawful obstruction of maritime rescue by various EU states, Mission Lifeline cannot provide any further information before it is in international waters.”

NGOs saved thousands of lives in the Mediterranean between 2015 and 2018 – in 2016 they were the most important single Search and Rescue actor, accounting for 26% of all rescues, filling a huge gap in state search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean after Italy scaled back its Mare Nostrum operation in late 2014.

In June, the MV Lifeline, with 234 people on board, was allowed to enter a Maltese port after spending six days stranded at sea. The vessel was only allowed to dock after Malta and a number of EU states reached an agreement on how to share the rescued migrants.

In June, the Maltese government decided to detain two rescue vessel ships with migrants and grounded a plane used by a German NGO for rescue operations in the Mediterranean Sea as it continues to play hardball.

Moreover, the MV Lifeline captain Claus-Peter Reisch was arraigned in court and charged with unlawful registration.

Despite various calls to observe human rights, Malta and Italy continue to squabble about rescued migrants with some 170 people aboard an Italian coast guard vessel currently stranded at sea as both countries are refusing to take them in.

This week, another 141 people stranded at sea aboard a rescue vessel operated by SOS Mediterranee were only allowed to enter Malta following the intervention of the European Commission.

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