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European authorities deny safety to over 800 refugees in the Mediterranean on World Refugee Day

The Aita Mari, Sea-Eye 4, Nadir and Sea-Watch 4’s calls for a port have fallen on deaf ears

WORLD REFUGEE DAY was marked today by the European authorities continuing to refuse to provide safety to over 800 refugees on four rescue ships in the central Mediterranean.

The Aita Mari rescue ship has been at sea for six days since its first rescue operation, and is now carrying 112 refugees.

When The Civil Fleet last reported on Humanitarian Maritime Rescue‘s (SMH) ship last Thursday, it was only carrying 68. The Aita Mari’s crew took on 45 more people on Friday.

The Nadir, a smaller monitoring vessel operated by German charity ResQship, saved their lives earlier that day in Malta‘s search-and-rescue (SAR) zone, and eventually handed them over to the Aita Mari.

“112 people have gone through all kinds of odysseys to survive,” SMH said today. “Some have already been on board for six days. They deserve dignified attention and a quick response.”

The crew of the Nadir (right) rescue 45 people last Friday before handing them over to the Aita Mari [Pic: ResQship]

Eleven people have been evacuated from the Sea-Eye 4 due to medical emergencies since the weekend.

One of the evacuees was a young man from Ivory Coast, who Sea-Eye said was suffering from injuries sustained in Libya when he was run over by a car nine months ago.

“Since then he has had a chronically infected wound on his foot the size of a hand,” the German charity said on Saturday.

“He has not received any medical treatment in Libya. We hope that he will finally get the necessary care in Italy and that he will recover completely.”

The Sea-Eye’s crew is currently looking after 483 survivors, including 17 unaccompanied minors. Its first rescue operation was last Wednesday.

The third ship currently carrying rescued refugees is the Sea-Watch 4, which has a total of 313 survivors on board.

A survivor is evacuated from the Sea-Eye 4 [Pic: Maria Maida / Sea-Eye]

On Friday, the Bansky-funded rescue ship Louise Michel found 17 people on an unseaworthy rubber boat.

“Luckily, the Louise Michel could take all of them safely on board before the so-called Libyan coastguard — which had probably been alerted by a Frontex drone on site,” the activists said Friday.

Then on Saturday morning, the distress hotline network Alarm Phone alerted the Louise Michel and Nadir to another distress case in Libya’s SAR zone.

Both crews were able to save another 96 lives. The Louise Michel was then carrying 113 survivors.

“[We] rescued another 52 people who were at sea for three days already,” the organisation said later that evening.

“We were informed by Alarm Phone about the boat in distress. 165 people are on board our ship now. During the rescue, our crew spotted another boat and are on the way to render assistance if needed.”

There were 95 people aboard that boat. It was first spotted inside Malta’s SAR zone by Sea-Watch’s reconnaissance plane Seabird 1.

The Seabird 1 informed a passing merchant ship, the Aslihan, which brought the 95 on board. However, Italy and Malta — the latter of which is legally required to render assistance — refused to provide the Aslihan with any help.

But then on Sunday, the Sea-Watch 4 arrived on scene, and the 95 were transferred over to it. The 165 people aboard the Louise Michel were also given over to the much bigger ship.

The Louise Michel (foreground) and Sea-Watch 4 (background) in Malta’s SAR zone on Sunday, June 19, 2022. [Pic: Louise Michel]

Sea-Watch described the weekend’s events as a repeating tragedy.

“While the European states duck away and shirk their responsibility, civil rescue ships ensure that the rescued people receive the necessary care at sea.

“If it were up to the European states, they all would have drowned.”

On Sunday afternoon, ResQship posted the following update on social media.

“Since the early morning hours, our crew has been waiting with 29 people on the move from Syria on deck just off the [Italian] island of Lampedusa, while the authorities block the permission to enter the port.

“The Nadir is not designed to care long-term for this number of people, especially the medical situation is steadily deteriorating. Our crew found the boat in distress on Saturday afternoon and had to evacuate it in the night to Sunday, as it was in severe danger of capsizing

“We demand the fast allocation of a safe harbour for our Nadir, but also for the Louise Michel, the Aita Mari and the Sea-Eye 4.”

Meanwhile, Alarm Phone warned today that around 30 people are still in danger in Malta’s SAR zone.

On Sunday, it said: “Our hotline was alerted to a boat with 30 travellers who left from Benghazi [in northern Libya]. They have spent already two days at sea and need immediate rescue!”

An update late yesterday evening said: “We are still in contact with the 30 people in distress. Sea-Watch’s aircraft Seabird 1 spotted the merchant vessel MTM Hamburg close by. Malta [it is] your duty to coordinate a rescue!”

As of 11am this morning, no rescue has yet been launched, Alarm Phone said in its latest update.

“The [roughly] 30 people in distress ask for urgent help! The merchant vessel MTM Hamburg, which we asked to intervene, passed by without rescuing.

“Italian coastguards do your duty! Rescue them now!”

UPDATE: 20:10

The Sea-Watch 4 has rescued another 23 people and has also taken on aboard the 29 people who were on the Nadir. The numbers have been updated above

Top image shows a burning boat in the central Mediterranean that was spotted by the Seabird 1. Sea-Watch says the boat was intercepted by the Libyan coastguards [Pic: Sea-Watch]

Published by The Civil Fleet

A news blog and podcast focused on the activist-led refugee rescue and support missions across Fortress Europe

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