A dead body, found yesterday by the civil surveillance aircraft Colibri, likely indicates a new shipwreck in the central mediterranean sea. The lack of suitable rescue assets and the blockade of the civil rescue fleet, turn the central Mediterranean into a deadly black box: Several shipwrecks occurred, since Malta is blocking rescue vessels from doing their duty. A one early September for example only got publicly known, since MSF interviewed survivors, even though the so-called Libyan Coast Guard had rescued them before. Now a dead body spotted by the aircrew of Sea-Watch and the French NGO Pilotes Volontaires, likely indicates yet another shipwreck.
The crossing through the central Mediterranean already became the deadliest in the world according to official numbers of the IOM, however, the real death toll might be much higher, today´s sad discovery shows.
The floating dead body was found north of the Libyan town Zuwarah at the position 33°32’N012°38’E. The beaches near Zuwarah are a frequent spot for boat people to start an attempt to cross the European external border on the sea route, as no safe and legal passage exists. Even if there is not a single rescue asset left, people still try to escape the conditions they face on Libyan soil, sightings during recent missions of the civil search aircraft Colibri show.
“While Mr Muscat is tweeting pictures of cute rescued dogs, this is the reality at sea, he wants to hide, by hindering civil rescue assets to do their duty,” says Tamino Böhm, Head of Airborne Operations with Sea-Watch, who was on board of the Colibri aircraft, when the body was found. “Today´s sad discovery is especially worrying, as it shows, the death toll on the mediterranean sea might be in fact much higher than official numbers suggest,” says Böhm. “It is a scandal, that European authorities turn the Mediterranean into a deadly black box, by hindering civil sea rescue from taking place. Even more important is our role bearing witness of what is going on at the European external borders from the air.”
Sea-Watch urges Malta and the European Union to come up with a sustainable solution for sea rescue in the mediterranean sea and Malta to immediately allow the rescue fleet to do its duty. Tragedies as this one have to be prevented.