Meanwhile, the authorities refuse to aid over 800 others aboard the Sea-Watch 3 and Ocean Viking
A CIVILIAN rescue ship has saved the lives of over 200 people in the central Mediterranean in less than 48 hours, while the authorities continue to ignore over 800 refugees aboard two other vessels.
The Geo Barents, operated by international medical charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF), is currently carrying 226 people, including around 71 minors — one of whom is less than a month old.
The ship carried out its first rescue yesterday afternoon after the activist-run distress organisation Alarm Phone alerted her crew to a boat in distress within Malta‘s search-and-rescue (SAR) zone.
Between then and now, the crew has carried out five more operations, most of which were brought to the ship’s attention by Alarm Phone.
“Everyone deserves to be safe,” MSF said this afternoon, “and our team will continue to provide assistance to people in distress in the central Mediterranean.”
Meanwhile, Sea-Watch says its ship, the Sea-Watch 3, urgently needs a port of safety for the 439 people on board, rescued in five operations in less than 26 hours over the weekend.
“On Sunday, two people and three family members had to be evacuated [from the ship] due to urgent medical reasons,” said the ship’s head of operations, Anne, in a video message today.
“The situation on board is very hot and very cramped. We urgently need to disembark the people in a port of safety.
“What is happening here is not a surprise. It is not an accident. It’s not an emergency. It is the result of decisions by politicians in Italy and Europe that deliberately put the lives of people on the move at risk.
“We need a port of safety now for all people rescued from distress at sea. And we need a safe passage, so that no-one has to risk their lives on this dangerous journey in the future again.”
On Saturday, the Sea-Watch 3’s crew learnt of a pushback to Libya involving a commercial ship, the Vos Triton.
“After rescuing [about] 100 people, [the Vos Triton] trans-shipped all shipwrecked to a patrol boat of the so-called Libyan Coastguard,” Sea-Watch posted on social media on Sunday.
“The Vos Triton radioed that at least four people had died and the medical situation of the survivors was of grave concern.
“The Sea-Watch 3, engaged in several rescue operations in the meantime, was informed that a patrol boat from the so-called Libyan Coastguard was heading towards the Vos Triton to pull back the rescued people.
“Afterward, a patrol boat of the so-called Libyan Coastguard arrived, and the people have been subsequently dragged back to Libya: a country they risked their lives trying to escape.”
Elsewhere, The Ocean Viking rescue ship is carrying 387 people (including a one-year-old baby), rescued in five missions in just over 24 hours on Sunday.
The ship’s operators SOS Mediterranee said yesterday that many of the rescued are “exhausted and show signs of emotional distress after spending more than 10 hours at sea.”
Alarm Phone shared news of a disaster off the coast of Morocco today.
“We’ve learned about a shipwreck that occurred between Tan Tan and Tarfaya Ahfinnek on Sunday,” the group said.
“A boat with 48 people from different African countries and Bangladesh sank. Reportedly, 29 people survived, 19 died. Sixteen bodies were found, three remain missing.”
Top image shows six of the rescued aboard the Geo Barents [Pic: MSF Sea]