The ship Mare Jonio of the Mediterranea project docks at the port of Palermo | Credit: ANSA/IGOR PETYX
The ship Mare Jonio of the Mediterranea project docks at the port of Palermo | Credit: ANSA/IGOR PETYX

The migrant rescue ship Mare Jonio of the private Italian organization "Mediterranea Saving Humans" is back at sea. It has left the port of Licata in Sicily and is now on its fourth mission.

Search and rescue (SAR) vessel Mare Jonio is back at sea with the organization Mediterranea for its fourth mission in 2019.

Mediterranea announced the news on its Twitter account, saying the Mare Jonio left the port of Licata, Sicily, at sunset on August 22, "to return to the Central Mediterranean to monitor and denounce violations of human rights and, where there are people in danger, to save lives."

Among those aboard are the Italian philanthropist Cecilia Strada and the Italian writer Caterina Bonvicini. 
"Our ship had been impounded for more than two months after saving 30 women, men and children this past May," Mediterranea said in an online statement.

"Now back in our hands, the ship is returning to where it needs to be," the statement read further. According to Mediterranea, the German NGO Lifeline is supporting the mission with a sailboat. Aboard the Mare Jonio, including the sailboat, are mission coordinator Luca Casarini and 22 crew members.

Cleric blames West for migrants' desperation

Catholic priest Luigi Ciotti, a human rights activist and founder of the association Libera, thanked the crew of the Mare Jonio for their return to sea.

"This is a gesture that affirms a truth that today is too often forgotten or trampled: Laws must guarantee justice, not power," Ciotti said.

"Justice begins with protecting the weakest people, even more so if they are victims. Migrants risk their lives out of desperation, a desperation that the Western world should question itself about" as it was "largely responsible for it," he added.

At the same time, he lauded the Mare Jonio crew and others who "who do it without reserve... and don't remain indifferent to those cries for help, to those lives tossed around by the waves."

They "represent the best part of our country and of a Europe faithful to its humanistic tradition," Ciotti said.

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