Over the weekend Spanish NGO Open Arms received permission to disembark 363 passengers in Italy and the Armed Forces Malta (AFM) brought a group of 47 rescued people to Malta. The NGO-run rescue vessel Mare Jonio was released after being held for five months in an Italian port.

On Saturday the Spanish NGO Open Arms, operating a rescue vessel under the same name, received permission from Italy to disembark its passengers in the port of Pozzallo. The vessel was carrying 363 people rescued in five different operations within 72 hours and spent several days in the Mediterranean Sea prior to the permission to disembark.

On Sunday 47 people were taken to a reception centre in police buses after being rescued by the Armed Forces Malta (AFM) when their boat was in distress in Malta’s search and rescue zone. This is the second disembarkation in Malta, of people rescued at sea with another 77 people taken to Malta Thursday last week.

On February 4 the Civil Court of Palermo granted the appeal lodged by the NGO Mediterranea Saving Humans against the impoundment of their rescue vessel Mare Jonio. The authorities involved have been ordered to immediately release the vessel, which was seized in September 2019 after the boat disembarked a group of people they rescued in the Mediterranean.

According to the latest report from the NGO Alarm Phone, covering a period of six months, the Eastern Mediterranean Route to Europe was again the source of the largest number of emergency calls. On Thursday February 6, the organisation commemorated the deaths at EU borders in an international ‘CommemorAction’. The death toll in January 2020 at the Mediterranean is at least 70. According to the UN Refugee Agency UNHCR 947 people were returned to Libya by the Libyan coast guard between January 1 and 23 where more than 630,000 migrants and refugees remain, 6,000 in official detention centres.

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Photo: (cc) International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, September 2015

This article appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin . You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.