Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has confirmed it will continue to operate its search and rescue activities in the Mediterranean, under the coordination of the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) in Rome, despite its decision not to sign a new Italian Code of Conduct for non-governmental organisations (NGOs) operating rescue ships in the area.
The organisation is one of five aid groups that have failed to sign the new code, according to Italian authorities. Germany's Sea-Watch, Sea-Eye and Jugend Rettet, and France's SOS Mediterranee, abstained while three groups have supported the new rules namely; Save the Children, Malta’s Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) and Spanish group Proactiva Open Arms.
In a statement, MSF said it is particularly concerned by proposals stating that vessels engaged in rescue operations must disembark survivors to a place of safety as a rule instead of transferring to other ships and says these “present unnecessary limitations to the means at our disposal today”. It has also voiced concern about the presence of armed police officers on board and the commitment for humanitarians to collect evidence, which it says, would be in breach of fundamental humanitarian principles of independence, neutrality, and impartiality.