FBU activist held “hostage” in the Mediterranean

The FBU has called on the Foreign Secretary to intervene as rescue workers are being held ‘hostage’ by the Italian government.

FBU member Brendan Woodhouse, a firefighter for Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service, is among rescue workers being held off the coast of Sicily. He gave up his holiday to rescue refugees crossing the Mediterranean, in often dangerous conditions.

The aid group, Sea-Watch, works to rescue refugees and asylum seekers attempting to cross the Mediterranean. The group picked up 47 people on 19 January, and have been held off the coast ever since. The crew’s request to be allowed to land the asylum seekers in an Italian port has been denied, and the Italian government has indicated that it may take legal action against the Sea-Watch crew for aiding illegal immigration.

The union is calling on the Foreign Secretary to urgently intervene to resolve the situation, and in the short-term to ensure that water and food is provided to those on board. The FBU are lobbying ministers and MPs to take action at the highest level.

FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said: “Jeremy Hunt must pressure the Italian government to allow these British citizens to return home. Brendan and his colleagues were saving the lives of people fleeing war and persecution, and it is abhorrent that aid workers, offering their time and specialist skills to save the lives of others, are being treated in this way by a ‘friend’ of the UK’s.

“Brendan and his colleagues have the union’s full support and we will be doing all that we can to make sure the crew return home safely to their friends and family.”

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