+++645 people rescued – 1 deceased woman+++

27.03.2017


 

The situation in the Mediterranean keeps deteriorating: once again SOS MEDITERRANEE saves over 600 people from drowning – for one woman the help came too late

In the night from Saturday to Sunday, the European rescue organization SOS MEDITERRANEE, with the help of other civil rescue vessels, saved 645 people from drowning in just six hours. All help came too late for one woman and she could only be recovered dead. Doctors Without Borders (MSF) is currently tending to the rescued aboard our jointly operated rescue vessel Aquarius. Just last weekend the crew on the Aquarius saved 945 people in one of our biggest rescue operations to date.

In the night from Saturday to Sunday other aid organizations operating in the Mediterranean were also busy saving hundreds of individuals from unseaworthy boats. Even though there are now seven civic rescue vessels operating between Libya and Italy, several hundred people are presumed to have drowned just last week, trying to cross the Mediterranean. The organizations Pro Activa Open Arms and Jugend Rettet were able to recover only a few bodies. According to IOM 559 people have already lost their lives this year – a significant increase from the same period, last year.

Private sea rescue organizations are increasingly subject to criticisms by public officials and politicians. Aside from the accusation of collaborating with human smuggling network, currently the main criticisms centre around the allegation that the use of private boats encourages refugees to try and risk the dangerous passage to Europe, thus functioning as a ‘pull factor’.

These allegations, however, disregard that the international law of the sea and international agreements provide a very clear framework: at sea everybody is obligated to aid a ship in distress. This is what SOS MEDITERRANEE has done – almost 80 times – over the past year, following direct instructions from the MRCC in Rome, which coordinates all rescue efforts between Libya and Italy. SOS MEDITERRANEE therefore operates within a legal duty. As long as the European Union does not sufficiently fulfil its obligation of sea rescue, SOS MEDITERRANE and other private organizations will continue their efforts in the Mediterranean.

 

For more information contact: Jana Ciernioch | SOS MEDITERRANEE Deutschland e.V.|  j.ciernioch@sosmediterranee.org