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Sea Watch: One ship freed while 363 refugees still wait for land on another

ANOTHER NGO refugee rescue ship was released today after spending other five months barred from leaving an Italian port for a multitude of supposed safety failings.

The Administrative Court in Palermo today lifted the suspension today that had kept the Sea Watch 4 in port since September 19 following the rescue of hundreds of refugees in the central Mediterranean.

An 11-hour inspection of the ship days later saw Italian inspectors issue the ship with a long list of safety irregularities, including carrying too many life jackets.

Italy’s ban went ahead despite the ship’s flag state, Germany, repeatedly confirming that the Sea Watch 4 met all of its safety requirements.

Today, the Administrative Court judge in Palermo clarified the ship’s safety was ensured by its flag state, freeing the ship.

Sea Watch chairman Johannes Bayer said the release of the Sea Watch 4 was gratifying, but warned that the decision had come too late.

“The EU has made leaving to die its migration policy,” Mr Bayer said today.

“In 2021, three times as many people have already drowned in the Mediterranean as the year has days. We also want to prevent the illegitimate blockade of rescue ships in the future; for this we continue to fight before the European Court of Justice.”

Meanwhile Sea Watch’s other ship, the Sea Watch 3, is still waiting for Italy, Malta and the European authorities to provide her with a safe port to disembark the 363 people rescued at the weekend.

“We have 363 people on board who had to go through hell to even land on this ship,” the Sea Watch 3’s head of mission Hugo Grenier said today.

“Europe denied them safe escape routes and would have let them drown. Now they are denied a port of safety. We are not asking for charity, we just want their rights to be respected and implemented.”

Top image shows the Sea Watch 4 at sea [Pic: Chris Grodotzki/]

Published by The Civil Fleet

A news blog and podcast focused on the activist-led refugee rescue and support missions across Fortress Europe

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