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Captain of migrant rescue ships Klemp refuses civilian award from Paris officials

Captain of migrant rescue ships Klemp refuses civilian award from Paris officials

The German captain of rescue ships that saved hundreds of migrants’ lives in the Mediterranean has turned down Paris’ highest civilian award. The city awarded Pia Klemp and her compatriot Carola Rakete the Grand Vermeil Medal in July for bravery in bringing migrants to shore despite Italian efforts to stop them.

“We do not need authorities deciding who is a ‘hero’ and who is ‘illegal,’”Klemp said on Facebook late on Tuesday. She wrote to Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo: “You want to award me a medal … At the same time your police steal blankets from people you force to live on the streets while you suppress protests.”

The Paris City Hall said it is “fully mobilized to support the refugees, to shelter them and ensure a dignified respect for their humanity,” Reuters reports.

On Wednesday, five EU states agreed to take in scores of migrants stranded for weeks on board the crowded rescue ship ‘Open Arms’, ending a prolonged stand-off with Rome.