Pia Klemp, Woman Who Rescued Migrants But Refused Bravery Medal

Klemp calls the Paris medal of bravery as hypocritical as in 2017, an NGO reported that Paris police officers harass migrants by taking their blankets and sometimes use tear gas to disperse them. 

Anushika Srivastava
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Pia Klemp by The Guardian

The captain of a controversial ship that saved migrants in the Mediterranean Sea has refused to accept France's prestigious civil honour for her work. Meet Pia Klemp who is a ship captain, and calls herself an animal and human rights activist. From Germany, she hit the headlines because her ship, meant to rescue thousands of stranded migrants in 2018 July, was seized by Italian authorities. She is fighting the authorities that can put her behind bars for twenty years for rescuing around 14,000 migrants from drowning.


She has refused a bravery medal, called the Grand Vermeil Medal, citing that Paris is being hypocritical. Her Facebook post after declining the medal stated why:

"Madame Hidalgo, you want to award me a medal for my solidarian action in the Mediterranean Sea, because our crews 'work to rescue migrants from difficult conditions on a daily basis'. At the same time your police is stealing blankets from people that you force to live on the streets, while you raid protests and criminalize people that are standing up for rights of migrants and asylum seekers. You want to give me a medal for actions that you fight in your own ramparts. I am sure you won't be surprised that I decline the medaille Grand Vermeil."

What Is The Migrant Crisis?

The Migrant Crisis began in Europe in around 2015, when a large number of people started migrating to the European Union (EU) from across the Mediterranean Sea through SouthEast Europe. The European Union assigned the term Immigrant to such people, who do not belong to any of the countries coming under the EU but are seeking asylum for, or more than a period of at least twelve months.

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These people migrating to the EU are mostly coming from the Middle East and Africa, marked by Poverty, Drought, and violence linked to human-caused Global Warming. However, this immigration is also used by terrorist organizations such as ISIS to enter the countries in disguise of refugees. The shifting of these migrants through Sea led to a record number of deaths in the sea in 2015, where  5 ships carrying around 2000 people to Europe, sank in the water. The death toll was estimated to be around 1200.



  • Pia Klemp charged with assisting illegal migration her ship Luventa was seized by the Italian authorities. 
  • The Luventa case forced Klemp to temporarily stop her rescue activities at sea and return to Germany in August 
  • She was born in Bonn, Germany, worked with nature conservation projects in Germany, Thailand and Indonesia
  • Participated in many international operations to protect sea animals

Also Read: Iranian Lawyer Defending Women's Right To Remove Hijab Jailed

Klemp Reportedly Faces 20 Years In Prison For Her Efforts

Pia Klemp and nine of her shipmates are under investigation in Italy for their ship Luventa, which was impounded by the Italian authorities in 2017. They are accused of allegedly aiding human trafficking, while Klemp says she put her efforts to save the migrants. The Luventa is estimated to have saved 14,000 people.

At her TED Talk she said:


"I belong at sea. I'm a seafarer a captain and my place are the oceans.. I belong on board ships amongst my crews and the waves in the world where my skills are useful and no one cares about me swearing like a sailor. But I and other volunteer seafarers may have to spend 20 years in prison for not leaving people to die. Thats quite clearly not great for us"

Picture Credit of Pia Klemp : The Guardian

Also Read: Making Sustainability Affordable: Akshata Bhandranna, Founder Dopolgy

Global warming violence eco warriors Africa Poverty European Union Migrant Crisis EU Italian authorities Pia Klemp