“In the dark the rubber boat collapses, 50 people scream for their lives in the water with no life jackets; 70 more in danger, waves coming from all angles – the rescue ship about a mile away; the support rescue boat brakes down, people crushing each other in the wreck; get people floating, run out of life jackets, spot a drowned guy under the water, my fingers touch his hair, his shirt, then we have him, medic resuscitation; more people from the sea, we bury the medic under them, throw life jackets, our boat is overrun, we take life jackets off people climbing on us and throw them to the next person as the rubber boat broke. Pull away slowly though people are clinging to us, get people floating, clear our rescue boat to life rafts, support boat arrives they almost get over run, back to the ship offload drowned guy, keep medic; more life jackets and power through the darkness, weave around the ones screaming with life jackets. FOR FIVE HOURS!
That was my job five days ago.
When the sun came up we had 629 people on the ship transfers and rescues. All the transfers where from ITALIAN COAST GUARD vessels, more than half of the people on board.
Then we had to wait for days standing still in the heat. Food running low, people getting anxious, one swears he will jump.
And now we are being fucking sent to Spain. Get this, they split the people we rescued into two other Government ships who cover the same area as us! THREE RESCUE SHIPS! As if diverting one rescue ship from the most deadly patch of sea on earth isn’t stupid enough right.
But it doesn’t stop there! The next day another Italian coast guard ship landed about 900 people in Italy, literally the sister ship of the one currently traveling in convoy to Spain with us now.
This whole exercise appears to just be political.
And it gets worse! The stretch of the sea we are traveling through is rough! We took four meter waves last night, sending spray over the ship. the nurses, who worked nonstop, were held vomit bags for mothers as they breast fed
These same people who just survived a ship wreck. I wish you could talk to him, this one guy, who suffered a loss, survived a shipwreck, hauled onto Aquarius, left to drift on our ship for days, is vomiting as we get hit by a storm, asks me for a pen to colour the crocs we gave him, is so polite and kind to me even, asks me how I am. And then he asks me why this is happening, I tell him because there are horrible people in the world.
This ship is a specialized tool to save lives of vulnerable people who many would rather die. I want to be back in the place we are needed, not on this farcical ego trip. Human life is sacred.”
The closure of safe ports – like now for our rescue ship #Aquarius – complicates the work of civil rescue organisations. Support us!
Photo Credits: Guglielmo Mangiapane / SOS MEDITERRANEE