Central Mediterranean: 22 People Die at Sea, 209 More are Rescued

Valérie Batselaere/MSF
Click to hide Text

Today the MV Aquarius, a search and rescue vessel run in partnership between Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and SOS MEDITERRANEE, rescued 209 people from two rubber dinghies in distress on the central Mediterranean. The team also recovered the bodies of 21 women and one man who had died at sea.

"When our team approached the first dinghy, they saw dead bodies lying at the bottom of the boat in a pool of fuel," said Jens Pagotto, MSF head of mission for search and rescue operations. "The survivors had been on the boat with the bodies of these women for hours on end. Many are too traumatized from what they have endured to be able to talk about what had happened. It’s still unclear exactly how they died. What is clear is that this loss of life was unnecessary and is the result of an insufficient and inadequate global response to this crisis. Policies that try and keep people away are not working. How many more lives will have to be lost at sea before people in need of assistance and protection are provided with a safer alternative?"

The teams took 209 people onboard the MV Aquarius from the rubber boats (177 men and 32 women). MSF teams continue to work to provide medical care and support to the survivors.