Akhtar*, a 21-year-old man from Bangladesh, told MSF staff that he left his country almost two years ago. His journey brought him first to Syria, then Libya, and ultimately to cross the Mediterranean Sea.
“I had no idea how difficult this journey would be,” he said. Akhtar described horrific conditions in Libya, where he was detained by police, held for ransom, and threatened with a machete. "I will never forgive myself for causing all of this pain to my mother. I haven’t heard from my family since. They do not know if I drowned in the sea. I just want to call them and tell them I survived.”
The Geo Barents left Catania port yesterday. The team will now prepare the ship to head back to the search and rescue zone in the central Mediterranean. “As a humanitarian organization, we will continue lifesaving rescue operations at sea in line with international maritime law, according to which we have conducted our activities so far,” said Gil. ”A rescue starts with taking people out of the water and concludes when all survivors disembark in a safe place.”
MSF has run search and rescue (SAR) activities in the central Mediterranean since 2015, working on eight different vessels independently or in partnership with other nongovernmental organizations. Since launching SAR operations with the Geo Barents in May 2021, MSF has rescued 5,497 people and recovered the bodies of 11 people who died at sea.
*Names have been changed.