The German captain of the migrant rescue ship, Sea-Watch 3, which defied an Italian government ban and docked at Lampedusa, has been honoured for her stance by the Catalan government.
Carola Rackete was awarded the prestigious "Gold Medal of Honour" from the Catalan Parliament for her rescue missions.
She was accompanied by the director of the Spanish NGO Open Arms, Óscar Camps, who was also awarded the medal for his humanitarian work in the Mediterranean.
Rackete is still under investigation by the Italian authorities for allegedly aiding and abetting illegal immigration. But the 31-year-old remains defiant.
She said: “Am I worried? Honestly, no. Because my actions were justified. What I am worried about are the injustices of this world fuelled by growth-based economic system and political power structures rooted in colonial times."
After having rejected in August Paris's highest civilian award, accusing the city of hypocrisy, Rackete thanked her Catalan hosts.
The 31 year-old is determined to continue rescuing people in need:
"I see a very, very urgent need to act, because people are losing their lives every week in the Mediterranean Sea, which I see as our common European border. So protecting them, I think, is a duty of European citizens."
Rackete criticised the European Union for what she described as “building border walls in the sea".
She urged the EU to agree on a policy for resettling migrants throughout the bloc.