Successful Transfer of All 265 Rescued People Onboard the Open Arms Vessel, Despite Adverse Weather Conditions

On the morning of 4 January 2021 and upon the instructions of the Italian authorities, the Open Arms vessel, which includes EMERGENCY personnel on board, waited in the harbour of Porto Empedocle in Sicily to begin the procedure of transferring the 265 rescued people onboard.

After doctors from the Italian Red Cross carried out testing for Covid-19, 51 unaccompanied minors were transferred to Italian Coast Guard patrol boats.

The onset of darkness and adverse weather conditions complicated operations and it was only possible to complete the transfer of all the people on the ship late in the evening. They were transported across via two RIB vessels to the Rhapsody quarantine ship, which has returned to port.

Our crew will now quarantine at a designated anchor point, as instructed by the relevant authorities.

We are happy that the people rescued during Mission 79 can now receive the treatment and protection to which they are entitled. However, during this mission 160 people were intercepted by the so-called Libyan Coast Guard and taken back to that country. 13 others remain missing.


EMERGENCY is an independent, neutral organisation, founded in 1994 to offer free, high-quality medical and surgical treatment to victims of war, landmines and poverty. Since then EMERGENCY has treated over 10 million people, or one every minute. EMERGENCY promotes a culture of peace, solidarity and respect for human rights.


Open Arms is a non-governmental organisation that fights for human rights at sea. It began its rescue missions in September 2015 off Lesbos, in Greece, where it saved a thousand people in the Aegean Sea. In winter 2016 it extended its missions to the central Mediterranean, where in four months it saved 15,000 lives on board the ship Astral. Since it began its missions in this part of the Mediterranean, it has saved 26,500 people, 5,000 of them on board Open Arms. All thanks to charitable support.

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