At the end of September 2018, Panama decided to cancel „hospitality“ to the rescue boat „Aquarius“. Namely, Panama, according to the SOS Mediterranée and the media, after pressure exerted by the Italian authorities, decided to remove the ship „Aquarius“ from the register of vessels, which operates within the NGO „SOS Mediterranée“ and deals with rescuing refugees and migrants across the Mediterranean.
In order to search for a new host country, the leaders of the NGO SOS Mediterranée called on European governments to extend hospitality to the Aquarius and enable it to continue to function.
Earlier this year, Aquarius was on several occasions at the center of European leaders’ attention and stumbling point in harmonizing a common asylum policy in the Mediterranean. In June, leaders of several EU member states, led by Austria and Italy, gathered support from other member states to create a policy of preventing the arrival of refugees and migrants, which caused a crisis in the common asylum system.
Over the years Aquarius has participated in numerous rescue operations and is responsible for saving thousands of lives saved throughout the Mediterranean. According to the UNHCR, 45,700 refugees and migrants arrived in Europe through the Mediterranean in the first six months of this year. In the first seven months of 2018, more than 1,500 refugees and migrants lost their lives in the Mediterranean. Therefore, stopping the activities of the Aquarius vessel certainly does not represent a contribution to preventing the suffering of refugees and migrants at sea, nor does it promote the asylum system of the EU and other European countries.