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  • The Doctors Without Borders and Sea Watch vessel, August 2020.

    The Doctors Without Borders and Sea Watch vessel, August 2020. | Photo: Twitter/ @knthlz

Published 6 August 2020
Opinion

Doctors Without Borders explained its new vessel has adequate staff to handle epidemiological protocols.

The Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and Sea Watch charities will resume humanitarian rescue operations in the central Mediterranean using their new ship, the Sea-Watch 4.

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This German-flagged vessel, which is a former oceanographic research vessel, is on Spanish territory preparing to sail from the Burriana Port on August 15.

It will leave for the coasts near Libya, an African country where the civil war forces people to migrate to European territories using precarious and unsafe boats.

"We can never accept that a human being drowns and ends up sunk under the waves because of negligent policies. We will do everything we can to avoid it," the MSF Operations Director Oliver Behn said.

He also stressed that the European Union (EU) countries are evading their obligation to assist migrants and asylum seekers who are fleeing war and poverty.

"EU states blatantly exploit COVID-19 to further restrict search and rescue activities. They deliberately condemn people to drown at sea through policies aimed at not assisting them" while violence in all its forms it grows and perpetuates in Libya.”

Sea-Watch and MSF stressed that the pandemic has substantially changed rescue and landing operations, which must now be carried out according to more strict regulations.

The meme reads, "I am 6 years old and was rescued by the Ocean Viking and the Sea Watch. Today, without those ships, I would not have arranged my bookstore this way."

"It cannot be an excuse. We are prepared with all the measures and protocols to detect positive cases, isolate them, and prepare them for a safe landing," the MSF spokesperson Hassiba Ben Saharaui said and pointed out that the Sea-Watch 4 has the adequate staff to handle epidemiological protocols.

As of Thursday morning, Libya had reported 4,475 COVID-19 cases and 99 deaths. The spread of this viral disease among migrants, however, cannot be easily known because of the country's precarious health system.

Notwithstanding the foregoing, Sea-Watch and MSF warned that migrants should not be conceived as vehicles for transmitting the disease, a stigma that the European far-right groups are deploying against rescue operations.

Both humanitarian organizations criticized the decision of European states to entrust rescue operations to the Libyan Coast Guard.

In the last week, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), at least 330 migrants were intercepted at sea by the Libyan Coast Guard and hot returned to detention centers in that country.

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