The crew of the civil rescue ship Sea-Watch 5 has rescued 119 people from distress at sea in its first deployment in 2 different rescue operations. The people are receiving first aid on board; the youngest guest is three years old. Italy has assigned the ship to the distant port of Marina di Carrara for landing.
In an initial rescue on the evening of December 24, 55 people were rescued from an overcrowded rubber dinghy in international waters off Libya. Immediately afterward, the Sea-Watch 5 received a mayday distress call about another distress at sea, which the ship headed for on the instructions of the Italian Maritime Rescue Coordination Center MRCC Rome. The crew rescued 64 people in a second rescue and brought them safely on board. The now 119 people, including 32 children and unaccompanied minors, are being cared for on the ship. Many of those rescued are suffering from exhaustion, dehydration, and chemical burns caused by oil-seawater mixtures that form in the boats.
Italian authorities have assigned the ship to the port of Marina di Carrara, which is around 1150 kilometers away. The Sea-Watch 5 is currently the only rescue ship in the area. According to figures from the International Organization for Migration (IOM), 2,678 people have drowned while fleeing across the Mediterranean so far this year; the number of unreported cases is unknown.
“There is no silent night when people have to try to flee across the sea in search of safety. Over 2600 people were left to drown this year. Who wants to end the dying in the Mediterranean must establish safe escape routes“, says Anne Dekker, head of operations on board Sea-Watch 5.
“We are currently the only rescue ship in the area and are being sent to disembark in a port 1150 kilometers away. The new EU migration pact is not an answer to the rescue crisis and thousands of deaths in the Mediterranean, but will only increase the suffering at the borders”, says Oliver Kulikowski, Sea-Watch spokesperson.