The survivor of a capsized migrant boat arrived in Palma yesterday morning. A rescue boat operated by Spanish aid group Proactiva Open Arms had found the Cameroonian woman along with the bodies of a small boy and another woman in the Mediterranean. The aid group accused Libya's coastguard of having abandoned the three on Tuesday after the coastguard had intercepted some 160 Europe-bound migrants.
A video posted by the group showing the floating bodies and the rescue of the woman caused outrage across Europe. Proactiva Open Arms director Oscar Camps said the two women and the toddler had refused to board Libyan vessels with the rest of the migrants and were left behind.
The Open Arms ship docked in Palma after a four-day journey across the Mediterranean. It was accompanied by its sister ship Astral. The group said the surviving woman will receive medical treatment for physical and psychological trauma.
The woman, identified only as "Josefa," told a journalist on board the rescue ship that the migrants had been at sea for two days and two nights. It was not clear how many others from the woman’s boat survived on their way back to Libya. The rescuers had refused to dock in Italy, saying they didn’t trust how Italian authorities would handle an investigation into the wreckage. Rome and the European Union have trained and financed the Libyan coastguard to halt the flow of migration.
Italy's populist interior minister Matteo Salvini has repeatedly denied entry to aid ships rescuing migrants in the Mediterranean Sea, including Open Arms, and referred to the group's claims and account of the rescue operation as "lies and insults".
The Proactiva Open Arms group yesterday lodged a denuncia with a Palma court for manslaughter due to negligence and failure to give assistance against the Libyan coastguard, with the second of these applying also to the Italian authorities.