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  • Carola Rackete at the Finance police headquarters in Lampedusa, Italy, June 29, 2019.

    Carola Rackete at the Finance police headquarters in Lampedusa, Italy, June 29, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 13 July 2019

The French city pays its highest honor to the commanders of the rescue vessels and grants US$112,700 to SOS Mediterranée.

The Municipality of Paris, which is headed by the socialist politician Anne Hidalgo, announced Friday that the Grand Vermeil medal will be given to Carola Rackete and Pia Klemp for their humanitarian work in saving the lives of the migrants stranded in the Mediterranean Sea.

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The German captains Rackete and Klemp are "bearers of European values ​​to which the Municipality of Paris once again asks our continent to remain faithful... Since 2014 , about 17,000 people have died or been lost in the Mediterranean. Faced with this tragedy, the City of Paris reaffirms its support for women and men who work to rescue migrants every day and in difficult conditions," the Parisian municipality holds.

The French authorities also announced that US$112,700 will be granted inmediately to SOS Mediterranée, a nonprofit organization which rescues migrants at sea.

"Organizations such as SOS Mediterranée and Sea Watch​​​​​ honor us and push us towards commitment in the face of the inertia of European governments," the councilor of mayor Hidalgo, Patrick Klugman, said.

“An exemplary mayor awards two exemplary captains: Carola Rackete and Pia Klemp. Then there is hope: maybe saving lives is not a crime. And, fortunately, in Europe not everyone is like Salvini. (Someone though, yes).”

Captain Carola Rackete rescued African migrants who were adrift in the Mediterranean Sea and disembarked 40 of them at Lampedusa Island in Italy, a country that currently has a "Closed Ports" policy which the far right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini promotes to prevent the entry of humanitarian ships.

Captain Pia Klemp rescued over a thousand African migrants who were at risk of drowning as they tried to reach Europe. As a result, she stands trial in Italy, accused of "helping illegal immigration," which means that she faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

On Saturday, the Italian Interior Minister called "French hypocrisy" the decision of the Municipality of Paris to award a prize to Captain Rackete.

"French hypocrisy. They reward the German commander Carola Rackete as if she were a heroine," said Salvini, who commented, in a dismissive and ironic tone, she only needs to be nominated for the "European Citizen of the Year and we will have seen everything."

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