TIED UP: Open Arms ship held at Barcelona port by Maritime Authority

RESCUE ship Open Arms remains tied up in Barcelona port and cannot continue its operations in the Mediterranean.

The port’s Maritime Authority, dependent on Spain’s Ministry of Public Works, will not allow the ship to return to the rescue area where last year 1,300 migrants died while attempting to reach Europe.

The Open Arms has brought in 450 migrants, the majority asylum seekers, since last July and the order to remain in port arrived shortly after its fourth operation.

The communication, signed by Captain Javier Valencia, detailed a long list of Open Arms’ infringements of international conventions to justify the decision to prevent it from sailing.

During its last rescue operation the ship ignored the obligation of disembarking the rescued migrants at the “nearest and safest port possible” the notification maintained.

When neither Italy nor Malta would accept the refugees, Open Arms took them to Algeciras although this was the furthest “safe port” in the Mediterranean, the Maritime Authority complained.

After its penultimate rescue last August, the Maritime Authority at Algeciras also retained the Open Arms for three days although on this occasion the Authority’s objections were based on technical reasons that were eventually resolved.

The Proactive Open Arms organisation, which owns the ship, complained that it was being prevented from continuing its work not on technical grounds but due to neglect on the part of the different countries involved.

“It’s like preventing an ambulance from attending an accident because the hospitals are full,” a spokesman said.

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