The ‘Open Arms’ Decides To Head Towards The Spanish Coast

The Open Arms has asked the Spanish MRCC to take over coordination of the Search and Rescue operation that led to the recovery of the dead bodies of a woman and a young child yesterday morning, and the rescuing of a single survivor of the shipwreck that took place on Monday evening.

The request derives from the realisation that the idea of landing in an Italian port (the possibility of landing at Catania was communicated only at 23:04 on Tuesday) would nevertheless present various negative factors. The first are the declarations by the Italian Minister of the Interior, Matteo Salvini, who has described the documentation we have offered of the tragic images of the sea area where the Libyan Coast Guard operation took place as “lies and insults.”

Furthermore, it is entirely unclear as to why the initial availability by Italy to accept the living woman, in a serious state of hypothermia, was not also accompanied by an offer to accept the two bodies that had been recovered. The reiterated announcement of some form of counter-inquiry or counter-version of the likely dynamic that brought about the events of Monday evening has led to a concern for the protection of the survivor and of her full freedom to provide testimony in safe and secure conditions.

All of this is occurring while the European Commission, the United Nations, the European Court of Human Rights and the High Representative og the Union for Foreign Affairs all emphasise that Libya is not a place of safety by any means.

For all of these reasons we have decided to send out ships towards the Spanish coast.


About Proactiva Open Arms
POA is a non-governmental organisation that protects human rights at sea. It began its rescue operations in Lesbos (Greece) in September 2015, where it saved a thousand people in the Aegean Sea. In Summer 2016 it expanded its mission to the central Mediterranean, where it has saved 15,000 lives on board the sail-boat Astral within 4 months. Since the central Mediterranean mission started, 26,500 people have been saved, 5,000 of whom on board the Open Arms. All of this is due to donations from civil society.

Laura Lanuza
Cell. +34 649 869 001
Veronica Alfonsi



Project “OpenEurope” – Oxfam Italia, Diaconia Valdese, Borderline Sicilia Onlus

Translation by Richard Braude