SOS MEDITERRANEE continues its search and rescue activities

SOS MEDITERRANEE continues its search and rescue activities whilst monitoring recent developments in the Mediterranean

On Thursday, the 10th August, Libyan authorities announced their intention to establish a search and rescue (SAR) zone, thereby wishing to restrict access to the international waters off Libya to all foreign ships, including humanitarian vessels. If implemented, the measures proposed could severely restrict the rescue activities of SAR-NGOs in the Mediterranean. So far the Search-and-Rescue organizations have not yet received any official confirmation from the Libyan authorities.

SOS MED is monitoring the worrying situation very closely. Apart from saving lives, the safety of our crew is our first priority. As long as this continues to be guaranteed, SOS MEDITERRANEE will remain in the Search-and-Rescue zone, saving boats in distress and preventing people from being forcefully returned to Libya.

Following this information from Libya, MSF has decided to temporarily suspend the search and rescue activities of its ship Prudence. The MSF medical support team will continue its work on the Aquarius, the ship chartered by SOS MEDITERRANEE and operated jointly by both organizations. The Aquarius is currently patrolling in international waters, respecting the limits of Libyan territorial waters, as prescribed by international maritime law.

SOS MEDITERRANEE wishes to underline the necessity of expanding Search- and Rescue capacities in the Mediterranean. SAR NGOs must be able to continue their life-saving activities without impediments. Peoples’ lives are at risk, both at sea and in Libya. As we have learned from the testimonies that we collect on board, if people are sent back to Libya, they are sent back to arbitrary detention and other forms of human rights’ abuses. Restricting the access and activities of SAR NGOs will, once more, cause additional deaths and suffering in the Mediterranean Sea.