The Malta Independent 19 June 2021, Saturday

NGO rescue ship seeks port of safety with over 400 migrants

Tuesday, 18 May 2021, 11:47 Last update: about 1 month ago
Photo: Guillaume Duez
Photo: Guillaume Duez

The rescue ship SEA-EYE 4, operated by the NGO Sea-Eye, have said that they have rescued over 400 migrants from international waters within the Libyan and Maltese rescue zones in the past four days and are now seeking a port of safety.

“People were rescued from wooden boats unsuitable for the high seas in six rescue operations. UNHCR reported at the same time that the so-called Libyan Coast Guard prevented a total of 650 people from leaving the civil war country of Libya”, the NGO said in a statement on Tuesday.

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They said that those rescued come from many different nations and that there are many minors, who are considered particularly vulnerable, among them.  

So far, not a single European authority has responded to the messages from SEA-EYE 4, the NGO said.

“We very much hope that we will be assigned a port of safety for the SEA-EYE 4 in the next hours. Our crew has been in action for more than 96 hours because there has been no governmental effort at all to help these people seeking protection,” Gorden Isler, chairman of Sea-Eye e. V, said.

The SEA-EYE 4 is now heading north. The ship's command is waiting for a European rescue coordination centre to take over further coordination. For the first time, a doctor from the new partner organization German Doctors is responsible for the medical care of the rescued.

“Among the more than 400 people rescued, 25 were in a condition requiring treatment or even in critical condition. An eight-year-old boy, for example, was no longer responsive. We have since been able to stabilize him and all the other patients in the onboard hospital. Three pregnant women and one baby are in good condition. We tested one man with pneumonia negative for Covid-19. The most common diagnoses were: Hypothermia, dehydration, malnutrition, exhaustion, and seasickness and unconsciousness. It is deeply distressing that most people also show clear symptoms of severe trauma - including many of the children,” Dr. Stefan Mees, German Doctors mission physician and shipboard doctor on the SEA-EYE 4, said.

“Our new onboard hospital is in constant use. We are therefore grateful for the support and expertise of German Doctors. The relief in the medical area is really noticeable and gives us backing for all other tasks in ship operation,” Isler added.

In Germany, a total of 247 municipalities and cities declared their readiness to accept people rescued at sea in the Seebrücke alliance. Also, in the alliance for civilian sea rescue United4Rescue, Gemeinsam Retten e. V., more than 750 institutions demand solidarity and humanity at the European borders.

“It must not be that now again an undignified discussion about the distribution of individuals begins at the European level. We must be in solidarity with the Mediterranean countries. The German government would send a clear and important signal if it declared its willingness to take in the rescued persons. This could also lead to our alliance ships not being repeatedly detained and prevented from rescuing people. How much these ships are needed, we have seen in the last few hours,” Michael Schwickart, Vice Chairman of United4 Rescue, said.

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