Sea-Watch aircraft Moonbird resumes rescue operations after being grounded in Malta

Sea-Watch reconnaissance aircraft Moonbird has resumed rescue operations in the central Mediterranean sea as death rates climb to record highs in the area

Sea-Watch reconnaissance aircraft Moonbird resumed operations
Sea-Watch reconnaissance aircraft Moonbird resumed operations

The reconnaissance aircraft Moonbird operated by humanitarian NGO Sea-Watch has resumed operations after having been grounded in Malta for three months.

The aircraft, operated in cooperation with the Swiss Humanitarian Pilots Initiative, was prevented from continuing search-and-rescue operations by the Maltese government without any legal grounds, the NGO protested.

On Wednesday, Sea-Watch’s aircraft took off at 9.45am UTC from a new operative base.

“They apparently can confiscate our ships unlawfully, but they will not be able to hide the crime against humanity, that is carried out on the central Mediterranean in the name of the European Union, facilitated by Muscat and Salvini," Tamino Böhm, head of airborne operations, said.

Sea-Watch said the death rate in the central Mediterranean sea has never been as high, in part due to the number of civil recuse assets that have been blocked or confiscated, along with governmental sea rescue agencies not functioning well.

The organization added that the current situation was worse than years before, due to no maritime rescue co-ordination centre effectively taking care of the coordination of distress cases. “We will not back down from challenging Europe’s policy of leaving people to drown. Our mission became more important than ever, now, that the Mediterranean Sea has turned into a deadly black box in which not only human rights are violated on a daily basis, but also men, women and children disappear without anyone taking notice. This is why we will do everything in our hands to give evidence and to enforce rescue,” Moonbird initiator Ruben Neugebauer said.

Sea-Watch said operations have become more complex in the region, and more expensive then it used to be to operate from Malta.

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