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THE situation on board the Open Arms NGO migrant rescue ship off the coast of Lampedusa took a dramatic turn for the worse today as nine migrants jumped overboard and attempted to swim ashore.
In a video shared by the Spanish charity this afternoon several people are seen swimming away from the boat before they are intercepted by an Italian coastguard ship and an Open Arms dinghy.
Se siguen lanzando más personas al agua de manera desesperada. Nuestros socorristas, barca de rescate, guardacostas y guardia di finanza rescatan e intentan controlar la situación.
A bordo la situación está al límite pic.twitter.com/h8530CvmIU
— Open Arms (@openarms_fund) August 20, 2019
Above the video, the charity said: “People keep throwing themselves into the water. Our rescuers … the coastguards and finance guards [are trying] to control the situation. Our endurance is at the limit.”
The Open Arms has gone 19 days without a port and is now carrying 97 migrants. Late on Monday night nine people were evacuated to Lampedusa on medical grounds.
The charity’s founder Oscar Camps shared a pictured of the evacutation last night, writing: “Medical evacuation in the OpenArms of another 8 people and a companion.
“[We’re] confined in an iron box for 18 days, rationed water, rationed food … the situation begins to resemble that of a Libyan detention centre but in Italian territorial waters.”
The crew working on the Medicines San Frontiers and SOS Mediterranee’s ship Ocean Viking, which is carrying 356 rescued migrants and has now been stranded for 11 days, tweeted in solidarity with the Open Arms today.
Prolonged standoffs at sea can have grave physical & psychological implications for rescued people, who have already suffered enough. pic.twitter.com/82fP96hv1I
— MSF Sea (@MSF_Sea) August 20, 2019
“As medics and humanitarians, our MSF team onboard Ocean Viking hears with grave concerns reports about the deteriorating situation on OpenArms.
“Prolonged standoffs at sea can have grave physical and psychological implications for rescued people, who have already suffered enough.”
Spokesman for the German NGO Sea Watch Chris Grodotzki told the Star the Open Arms situation not only shamed Italy but the whole of Europe.
“What we’re seeing in these videos is human dignity jumping overboard, trying to reach a shore that has long abandoned it.
”Every European should take this as a personal offence.
“That Interior Minister Matteo Salvini is now barring Open Arms from disembarking the rescued people in an Italian harbour, despite the fact that an agreement for their relocation has been reached is just the next step on a long and disgraceful way of abolishing sea rescue in the Mediterranean.
“Our crews have repeatedly been forced to live through similar situations off Malta and off Italy. We have seen the despair that 18 days of degrading rejection trigger in human beings.
“We have seen people jumping overboard. We have seen how people react to the realisation that this whole continent treats them like special waste while claiming to be the beacon of enlightenment and being the bearer of the Nobel Peace Prize.
“Even their mental breakdown, of which the attempt to swim ashore miles away is a clear sign, is obviously not enough to evacuate them from the Open Arms.
“At the moment people need to be in a life-threatening state to be brought to land.
“We are disgusted by this moral decline and the lack of resistance all over the EU institutions.
“To subject the people aboard the ship to such degradation for a racist political agenda, against every national and international law, that is going into a direction that can only be called fascist.”
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