efe-epaBarcelona (Spain)

The Spanish non-governmental organization Open Arms along with its Italian partner Mediterranea and the German Sea-Watch 3 have returned to waters off the coast of Libya to continue with their joint search and rescue mission, NGO officials said Friday.

The three organizations have decided to focus their fleet of three ships, each from a different country, under a unified mission called #United4Med after Open Arms' rescue vessel returned to action after almost four months of being detained in Malta.

"We have returned to defend human rights of those at sea and to make a common stand against barbarism," said Open Arms director Oscar Camps.

The fleet will be supported by the Moonbird reconnaissance aircraft, Sea-Watch added in a statement.

"The European Union states are haggling over the distribution of single rescued persons, while the death rate in the central Mediterranean rose to a record high in September," Johannes Bayer, Head of Operations on the Sea-Watch, said.

Though arrivals have fallen in recent weeks, one migrant in five drowned in Sept. in an attempt to reach a better life in Europe, the Italian Institute for International Political Studies said.

"In view of the declining number of arrivals, the issue is not whether Europe can cope with the numbers, but whether Europe can still muster enough humanity to simply prevent people from drowning," says Bayer.

Boats that try to cross the Mediterranean Sea contain between 150-700 occupants and are supplied with enough fuel to travel only around 20 kilometers in an often very dangerous sea, the NGOs said.