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OPEN ARMS – EMERGENCY: Sixth Day Waiting to Disembark 278 People on Board. Malta and Italy deny a Medical Evacuation Request and a Safe Harbour.

Monday, September 14, 2020

After carrying out three rescue missions between 08/09 and 10/09, two in the Maltese SAR area, and one in the Libyan SAR area, the Open Arms vessel has been waiting for six days for a safe harbour to disembark 278 people on board, who are in need of immediate assistance and care.

There are currently 260 males on board, including 56 unaccompanied minors and two very young children, and 18 females, two of whom are pregnant. Yesterday, EMERGENCY’s doctor on board considered it necessary to proceed with an evacuation request on medical grounds addressed to Malta and Italy for nine people: seven with severe burns and in need of immediate hospital treatment, and the two pregnant women, who are both experiencing nausea and weakness. The request was denied by both countries.

Meanwhile, the situation on board is increasingly complex. Weather conditions are worsening, all the people on board are in a precarious physical and psychological condition. Indeed, all of them have stories of torture and abuse as well as the trauma of crossing the sea.

It is urgent and necessary that European governments take action and allow our guests to reach a safe place where they can be treated. This is to guarantee the rights enshrined both in international conventions and democratic constitutions.


EMERGENCY is an independent, neutral organisation, founded in 1994 to give free, high-quality medical and surgical treatment to victims of war, landmines and poverty. Since then EMERGENCY has treated over 11 million people, or one every minute. EMERGENCY promotes a culture of peace, solidarity and respect for human rights.


Open Arms is a non-governmental organisation that fights for human rights at sea. It began its rescue missions in September 2015 off Lesbos, in Greece, where it saved a thousand people in the Aegean Sea. In winter 2016 it extended its missions to the central Mediterranean, where in four months it saved 15,000 lives on board the ship Astral. Since it began its missions in this part of the Mediterranean, it has saved 26,500 people, 5,000 of them on board Open Arms. All thanks to charitable support.