28. November 2016
The AQUARIUS will be the only civic rescue ship that will be saving lives in the Central Mediterranean over the coming winter months.
Based on current information, all other rescue organisations will leave the rescue area within the next month. The majority of ships are not suitable for operations in the cold climate and on rough seas – the AQUARIUS however, on top of being able to tend to 600 people on board, is. Additional renovation works on decks as well as on the interior, have equipped the ship for the winter.
Despite the consistently worsening weather conditions, boats are leaving the Libyan coast for Europe on almost a daily basis. SOS MEDITERRANEE is thus proceeding on the assumption that people will continue to flee during the winter months and that the organization’s presence at sea continues to be crucial. At the same time, the worsening weather conditions present new challenges and dangers for the SOS MEDITERRANEE crew.
Only two weeks ago, a rescue operation took a tragic turn when the AQUARIUS crew was able to save 114 refugees off an already sinking boat. For six people all help came too late. SOS MEDITERRANEE was only able to recover their bodies.
According to UNHCR, in 2016 almost 5.000 persons lost their lives attempting to cross the Mediterranean – more than ever before. „Because there are no safe alternatives to the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, hundreds of people continue to die here“, explains Klaus Vogel, founder of SOS MEDITERRANEE. „We regard our efforts in the Mediterranean as our humanitarian duty. We cannot allow that people drown whilst fleeing across the Mediterranean. However, Search and Rescue operations are not enough. People need save routes to Europe. That is the only way in which to end death at sea.“
Photo credit: Johannes Moths