The Humanity 1, which changed course yesterday and is nearing the boat’s last known position, is already carrying 208 survivors
AN ACTIVIST-RUN refugee rescue ship is racing towards a boat carrying about 207 people* adrift in the central Mediterranean for over a week, and without food or water or assistance from the authorities for days.
Activists were told that a three-month-old baby girl in the boat has already died of dehydration, and an unknown number have jumped overboard in an attempt to reach a passing cargo vessel.
The activist-run distress hotline organisation Alarm Phone was contacted by someone on the boat on Monday morning.
The caller’s GPS signal showed that the boat was in Malta’s search-and-rescue (SAR) zone, a section of the Mediterranean within which the island nation is legally responsible for co-ordinating rescues.
Alarm Phone alerted the Maltese authorities, but no rescue has been launched or co-ordinated since.
A caller told Alarm Phone this morning that the people are the boat were going crazy from dehydration.
The activist network’s last update on the distress call yesterday afternoon read: “We spoke to the people in distress again. They report that the cargo vessel Morning Carol was nearby and some went overboard to reach it.
“The people at risk have received no assistance. They have nothing to drink, the situation is desperate. Help is needed urgently!”
SOS Humanity, a German refugee rescue organisation, said on Monday that its ship the Humanity 1, which is already carrying 208 survivors from multiple rescue operations carried out in the central Mediterranean last week, was setting a course for the 207 stranded.
The ship’s chief mate Konrad condemned the European maritime authorities for leaving their responsibility to rescue the 207 to civilian actors.
“In all previous rescues with our ship Humanity 1, [Europe’s] rescue coordination centres have not fulfilled their duty of coordination.
“This case shows once again that seafarers are left alone with distress situations in the Mediterranean.”
At least four children have died of dehydration after spending days adrift in the central Mediterranean with no help from European authorities in the past week.
Loujin, a four-year-old Syrian girl, died while being helicoptered to hospital in Greece last Wednesday, three days after the authorities had been alerted to her distress case. She, and about 60 others, had set off from Lebanon about 10 days earlier.
Two Syrian infants under three and a 12-year-old child were found dead along with three adults by the Italian authorities on Monday after their boat reached Sicily unaided.
The bodies of two other women were also recovered from the water.
UN refugee agency UNHCR representative to Italy Chiara Cardoletti said the deaths were unacceptable.
“Six Syrian refugees including children, women and teenagers lost their lives at sea. They died of thirst, hunger and severe burns.
“Strengthening rescue at sea is the only way to prevent these tragedies.”
More than 1,200 people have died or vanished this year while trying to cross the Mediterranean and reach Europe, according to the UNHCR.
Rescuers Sea-Watch blamed yesterday’s deaths on Europe’s border regime.
In a social media post today, Sea-Watch said: “Six people lost their lives, including three children, while European sea rescue coordination centres remained inactive.
“These deaths are on the EU. A supposed union of values is watching, while people and children in need of protection die of thirst. Shame on you!”
Meanwhile, their rescue ship Sea-Watch 3 is current carrying 428 survivors, saved in multiple operations in the central Mediterranean since last Thursday.
* Update: September 14
SOS Humanity announced this morning that the Humanity 1 had reached the boat last night and her crew rescued everyone.
There were in fact 207 people aboard the boat (not 250 as initially thought), SOS Humanity confirmed, and there were no casualties, including the three-month-old child.
The numbers mentioned above have been updated.
The Civil Fleet will report more on last night’s rescue later today.
Top image shows an SOS Humanity Rhib team heading toward the Humanity 1 [Pic: Arez Ghaderi / SOS Humanity]