ARTE report

[Watch] Onboard Aquarius and Ocean Viking, 5 years of video media reports

Look back at 5 years of operations at sea by discovering or rediscovering TV reports made onboard the Aquarius between 2016 and 2018, and the Ocean Viking since August 2019.

Since the beginning of SOS MEDITERRANEE’s lifesaving missions in the central Mediterranean in February 2016, international journalists have been invited to embark on our vessel and testify to the situation at sea.



France 3 Provence-Alpes Côtes d’Azur, November 2020, by Hélène Renaux

Summary by France 3: “After three months of inactivity due to the sanitary crisis, the SOS Méditerranée association resumed its rescues at sea on June 22, 2020. In order to continue saving lives, the crew had to follow a new sanitary protocol. Objective: avoiding contamination on board the Ocean Viking, the association’s ambulance boat, which is being blocked by the Italian authorities in the Sicilian port of Porto Empedocle since 22 July.”

France 3 video report


M6, July 2020, by Etienne Huver

Summary by M6: “While on one side migrants are trying to reach Greece, on the other side of the Mediterranean, thousands of men, women and children are fleeing Libya for Italy, ready to risk their lives at sea. The Mediterranean Sea has become a cemetery. In the last six years, nearly 16,000 people have died or disappeared off the Libyan coast.”

M6 Reportage


Deutsch Welle, March 2020, by Miodrag Soric

Summary by DW Documentary: “On the rescue ship Ocean Viking, search and rescue coordinator Nick Romaniuk and his right-hand man Tanguy pick up 276 migrants in distress on the Mediterranean. Over three rescue missions they save the lives of people who have all but given up hope. It was a big challenge for the 32-member crew of the Ocean Viking to rescue migrants from the four-meter high waves and then care for their immediate needs. Every day, they had to deal with illnesses, injuries and psychological problems, as well as performing more mundane tasks like doing laundry. When the ship, chartered by aid organization SOS Méditerranée, was finally allowed to dock in Sicily the migrants and crew were put in quarantine for 14 days. The migrants could disembark, but the crew had to remain on board the ship. The Italian government says the measures were taken due to Coronavirus, but the activists on the Ocean Viking believe they were politically motivated — to prevent the crew from undertaking any more rescue missions.”

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France 2, January 2020, by Valérie Lucas

Summary by France 2: “403 migrants from Africa and Asia will be able to disembark in Italy on Wednesday 29 January. SOS MEDITERRANEE carried out five night-time rescue operations in less than 72 hours off the coast of Libya. Report on board the “Ocean Viking”.

France 2 Video Report


Al Jazeera, December 2019, by Faras Ghani

Summary by Al Jazeera: “Watch how a migrant rescue ship is saving migrants and refugees from dying at sea after they flee conflict and atrocities in Libya. Libya acts as a major gateway for African migrants hoping to reach Europe. According to the UN, there are more than 40,000 refugees and migrants in Libya. (…)”


  • [English] Human Cargo
    SBS Dateline, November 2019, by Evan Williams, Josh McAtamney and Sandy McKee

Summary by SBS Dateline: “With unprecedented access aboard a new NGO migrant rescue ship, we meet the volunteers on a perilous search and rescue mission off the coast of Libya. Can they navigate the difficult waters of changing migrant policy in Europe?”

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– In 2018 –


ARTE, November 2018, by Philippe Fontana and Stéphano de Luigi

Summary by ARTE: “Stefano De Luigi, an Italian photographer, followed an Aquarius mission in the Mediterranean at the beginning of 2018 to rescue refugees from Libya. In this film, he presents his view of the situation in the Mediterranean. He also expresses our emotion, sometimes our powerlessness, in the face of these overturned destinies. With, at the end of the journey, Europe as a land of hope?”

ARTE Video Report


Le Monde, October 2018, by Julia Pascual and Karim El Hadj

Summary by Le Monde: “Le Monde journalist Julia Pascual and photographer Samuel Gratacap spent two weeks on board the Aquarius (…). They followed the latest operations to rescue migrants, before the ship had its flag withdrawn, forcing it to suspend its activities. From the localisation of a boat in distress by the rescuers to the transfer of the survivors to Malta, Julia Pascual recounts the operation on the night of 22 September, during which thirty-seven migrants were rescued.”


Euronews, July 2018, by Anelise Borges

Summary by Eurnonews: “For us journalists, testifying is both an instinct and a responsibility. I boarded the Aquarius because I wanted to see with my own eyes how NGOs carry out their search and rescue missions on what is considered to be the world’s deadliest migration route. Over the last few years, I have been reporting on the refugee crisis – from the Syrian-Turkish border to Greece, via the Republic of Macedonia, Hungary, Germany and France – and I have been involved in the search and rescue missions of the NGOs. I have discovered fear and despair, but also solidarity and hope. I wanted to understand the reality of these rescue operations at sea and their impact on Europe as a whole. I had no idea that I was going to report facts that would threaten the cohesion of the European Union. “Ten days at sea: the true story of the Aquarius” recounts what happened on board this humanitarian vessel when it found itself in the middle of one of the worst storms Europe has ever faced.“

Euronews Video Report


  • [German, with English subtitles] Saving lives in the Mediterranean, onboard Aquarius

WDR, November 2018, by Ben Bode

Summary by WDR: “Ben sails with the Aquarius rescue ship chartered by SOS MEDITERRANEE in partnership with Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) to rescue boat people in the Mediterranean.”


Episode 1: Training for emergencies

WDR Episode 1


Episode 2: Back to hell


Episode 3: Last second rescue


Episode 4: Stories from Libya



ARTE, August 2018, by Sébastien Mesquida

Summary by ARTE: “In 2015, 115,000 migrants left the Libyan coasts for Europe. 3800 died in the crossing. To help the shipwrecked, an initiative has been launched: SOS MEDITERRANEE. Volunteers, sea professionals and humanitarian workers have been on board the “citizen boat” for the past six months. They all come to spend at least three weeks onboard the Aquarius.”

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France 5, Janvier 2018, by Tancrède Bonora

Summary by France 5: “C à vous”, France 5: “Their daily life? Helping migrants who risk their lives at sea in makeshift boats. Our journalist Tancrède Bonora boarded the Aquarius to follow the crew’s actions off the Libyan coast.”

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– In 2017-


France 2, December 2017, by Hélène Eckmann

Summary by “Envoyé Spécial”, France 2: “Onboard the Aquarius, the volunteers of the association SOS MEDITERRANEE try to save migrants lost off the Libyan coast. “Envoyé Spécial” followed the first mission of three of them. Ludovic, 34, is a naval officer, Juliette, 30, a midwife, Elisabeth, 55, a nurse. This summer, instead of going on holiday, they preferred to board the Aquarius. This boat, chartered by the NGO SOS Méditerranée, tries to save migrants lost off the Libyan coast. For these volunteers, this is their first humanitarian mission at sea. They are the first faces, the first smiles, the first hands that the survivors find when they come on board. And for six weeks, they will discover the violence, the exile, the suffering, but also the hope and the immense joy of the people rescued.”

Envoyé Spécial Video report


Konbini, December 2017, by Albert Oziouls Toulouse

Summary by Konbini: “Off the coast of Libya, migrants risk their lives at sea. For migrants from Africa, the Mediterranean is the main route to Europe, despite the danger of crossing it. According to Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), in 2016, at least 5,000 men, women and children died trying to cross the Mediterranean, compared to nearly 2,800 in 2015. Since May 2016, the Aquarius, a ship chartered by the association SOS MEDITERRANEE, renders assistance to people in distress in the Central Mediterranean. We spent a fortnight on board, meeting its crew and the migrants it rescues.”


La Repubblica, December 2017, by Fabio Butera

Summary by La Repubblica: “In the last week, the Aquarius, vessel chartered by the NGO Sos Méditerranée, in collaboration with Doctors without Borders, rescued 166 survivors in international waters east of Tripoli and welcomed another 154 survivors on board, rescued by the Spanish NGO Open Arms. During the journey to the Port of Pozzallo, there was a moment of tension: a Nigerian verbally assaulted Libyan migrants. The boy had been the victim of violence during his detention in Libya and accused his traveling companions of being torturers. But the Libyans explained to him that they were fleeing their country after being kidnapped for political reasons and for economic blackmail.”


France 3 Provence-Alpes Côtes d’Azur, Octobre 2017, by Valérie Smadja, Marie-Agnès Peleran, Thierry Havard, Philippe Hervé

Summary by France 3: “We spent ten days on board the Aquarius, a boat chartered by SOS Méditerranée, an association co-created by a woman from Marseille, who rescues migrants at sea, off the coast of Libya. The Aquarius is today the only civilian boat to sail on the high seas 12 months a year. 90% funded by donations, the ship is at the service of an NGO which refuses that thousands of people die each year before their eyes, at the gates of Europe. Ten days to participate in the rescue, night and day, of canoes in perdition. Ten days to collect rare and precious testimonies of migrants who fled their country to reach Libya and then fled that country to escape the tortures that take place in this unstable country.”

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Huffington Post UK, August 2017, by Paco Anselmi

Summary by the Huffington Post: “For three weeks in August HuffPost UK witnessed first hand the migrant crisis in the Mediterranean during one of its most controversial and eventful phases.

Huffington Post Video report


France 5, July 2017, by Charles Villa and Pierre Lascar

Summary by “In Vivo”, France 5: “Since March 2016, the Aquarius, a humanitarian boat chartered by the NGO SOS Méditerranée, has been sailing off the Libyan coast to help migrants who are trying to reach Europe via the sea. On board, the survivors are cared for and treated by Médecins Sans Frontières. Between 2 out of 100 refugees drown during the crossing of the Mediterranean Sea. After more than a year of missions, around 15,000 migrants have been rescued by SOS Méditerranée and Médecins Sans Frontières.”

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– In 2016 –


BFM TV, November 2016, by Antoine Bonnetier, Perrine Baglan and Sophie Herbé

WARNING: This video report contains distressing content

Summary by  “Grand Angle”, BFM TV: “One of our teams spent two weeks aboard the Aquarius, a humanitarian boat which patrols off the Libyan coast and comes to the aid of migrants. Last week alone, there were at least 18 dead and 340 missing in the Mediterranean. Our cameras witnessed the perilous rescue at sea of a zodiac with 119 people crammed into it. A total of 5 people died. However, a 15-year-old boy, whose lifeless body was floating in the water, was saved in extremis. – A “Grand Angle BFMTV” document from Wednesday 23rd November 2016.”

BFM Video report


Rai News, October 2016, by Angela Capponetto


BBC News, May 2016, by Christian Fraser

Summary by BBC News: “I spent nearly 3 weeks onboard the M.V. Aquarius which is chartered by SOS Mediterranee while onboard waiting for our main story, which was to film a package and report live from the ship for the 10 o’clock news, I made this film.”

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More to read and watch on this BBC News Website