Watch: Stranded in Malta, rescuer says NGO clampdown means death sentence

Well-known rescuer says nothing should stop him from doing his job

Video: Mark Zammit Cordina

A German rescuer fears European values of solidarity have been washed away amid a clampdown on migrant NGOs.

But Martin Kolek from the Sea-Watch humanitarian mission told Times of Malta: "I wont give up on going out tomorrow. From me it’s not possible to think of not going out to rescue again."

Mr Kolek and his crew is currently stranded in Malta after the government decided to stop NGO vessels and migrant spotter planes from operating. 

Read: Malta closes ports to migrant NGO ships - government confirms

The German national is mostly known after a picture had emerged of him holding a dead baby, who appears to be no more than a year old, after he pulled from the sea off Libya in 2016.

"When I picked up the drowned baby in 2016 something inside of me died with that small boy," he said.

As indecision reigns over the fate of NGOs, Mr Kolek warned that with the winds picking up in the central Mediterranean, many migrants will inevitably lose their lives at sea.  

"So for me it's a decision to go down the route of death," he said.

Mr Kolek was speaking after a silent demonstration in Valletta on Thursday night to pay tribute to those who died at sea.

Read: Malta blocks humanitarian aircraft

Martin Kolek holding a dead migrant baby in 2016.Martin Kolek holding a dead migrant baby in 2016.