The Mediterranea ship docked in the port of Lampedusa | Photo: ANSA/Elio Desiderio
The Mediterranea ship docked in the port of Lampedusa | Photo: ANSA/Elio Desiderio

The organisation Mediterranea Saving Humans has announced the suspension of its migrant rescue operations at sea due to the coronavirus emergency.

Mediterranea Saving Humans said in an open letter to its team on Thursday that it has decided to suspend its search-and-rescue activities at sea due to the coronavirus.

Mediterranea's rescue vessel Mare Jonio and sailboat Alex had been seized by Italian authorities in September and July 2019, respectively, but courts had recently ordered the boats to be released.

No sea rescues due to corona measures

"We were ready to set sail again, as tenacious and determined as ever: the ships were ready, and so were our crews. The development of the coronavirus pandemic, and the indisputably necessary measures adopted to try to contain it... require us to suspend our operations at sea," the organization said in the statement. "We are both legally and morally obliged to comply with the current health regulations and travel restrictions that make it impossible for our crew to reach Licata, the departure port, to embark within a reasonable timeframe."

Helping in Italy

Mediterranea added that while the Mediterranea team would be unable to save lifes at sea, for now, many of its members were currently active on the ground in Italy.

"Our crews are made of [over a hundred] doctors and paramedics... who have been on the front line in the Italian hospital since day one of this epidemic. Our crews are the dozens of activists who are lending their hand to the public services in the various areas affected by the contagion, working in the ambulance and assistance services," the organization wrote.

You can find the full open letter here.

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