[ 02. Jul 2018 ]

Sea-Watch hindered from leaving port while people drown at sea

Sea Watch 3 Trapped in Malta - 02. Jul 2018

+++ Current surge in death toll linked to crack down on sea rescue +++ Sea-Watch fully entitled with Dutch flag, investigations are political campaign against civil rescue fleet +++


Sea-Watch learned today that its vessel is detained in Malta, without any legal grounds provided by authorities. Since the Sea-Watch 3 is not registered in the sportboat register, as is the case for LIFELINE and SEEFUCHS, but is listed in the royal shipping register as a Dutch seagoing vessel, fully entitled to fly the Dutch flag, the lack of permission to sail from Malta turns out not to be a registration issue, but a political campaign to stop civil rescue at sea.

While rescue assets are blocked in port, recent days have become the deadliest this year. Yesterday, the UNHCR reported another 63 people missing, while on Friday more than 100 people had drowned, among them babies and children. At the moment there is no suitable rescue asset left in the area of operation, despite the fact that the Sea-Watch 3 is well equipped and ready to sail. Sea-Watch strongly urges the Maltese government to stop hindering rescue workers, as human lives are at acute risk.

On Friday, one day after the EU leaders decided on an inhumane deal, their plan to place border control above human rights took its first victims. “When news spread in 2013 about a shipwreck near Lampedusa, European heads of state gathered for condolences and Italy started its life saving mission ‘Mare Nostrum’. Now, more than 400 people have again drowned within the space of a few days, but instead of offering condolences, the same governments are hindering rescue workers from conducting their life saving duty,” Sea-Watch chairman Johannes Bayer says. “Friday’s shipwreck could likely have been prevented if the rescue vessels OPEN ARMS and ASTRAL had been asked to proceed to the position. Instead, the competent authorities asked the rescue workers to stay away, leaving the case to the so-called Libyan Coast Guard, which has repeatedly caused shipwrecks, as its assets are not suitable for rescues at sea, and often causes people to panic when they realise they might be brought back to Libya.”

The recent surge in deaths in the Central Mediterranean can be traced directly to the crackdown on the only remaining and reliable rescue capacity, along with European policies of non-assistance. While they focus public attention on the false portrayal of NGOs as ‘taxis’ or ‘shuttles”, as done by a German minister among others, and on empty legal investigations, they neglect the evidence that a reduction in SAR capacity does not mean a reduction in attempts to cross. This point has been clear for over 3 years, since Mare Nostrum ended.

“Our ship has a proper registration and is fully entitled to fly the Dutch flag. We would be the best equipped and trained rescue crew in the area of operation and there is no legal ground provided so far to justify the detention of our vessel. We expect the authorities to let us sail immediately.” says Pia Klemp, captain of the Sea-Watch 3. “While we are hindered from leaving port, people are drowning, this is absolutely unacceptable. Any further death at sea is on the account of those preventing rescue from taking place. How many more shipwrecks will it take before Europe, once again, realises that saving lives at sea must remain non-negotiable?”

Source :: (02. Jul 2018)