Over 70 migrants rescued from the Mediterranean in 1 day

Over 70 migrants rescued from the Mediterranean in 1 day
Credit: Sea-Eye.

The German humanitarian organisation Sea-Eye rescued more than 70 people in distress in the Mediterranean sea on Wednesday, as the European Council on Refugees and Exiles has announced rescue operations and death-tolls are rising again.

Sea-Eye crew members were called in to find 74 people, including 22 children, adrift in a rubber boat. They included people from Egypt, Nigeria, Sudan, South Sudan and Syria.

The organisation also announced that the crew had provided medical care to 15 people on board.

After being rescued by a container ship and then transferred onto the Sea Eye vessel, another 32 people were now aboard - taking the total to 106 rescued persons. After 50 hours, they are still awaiting disembarkation.

More migrants missing

Another 90 people are still missing after an unsuccessful search following another distress call. Another rescue operation for a boat containing 145 people was also not completed, in this case because of “an illegal pushback by the so-called Libyan Coast Guard.”

Civil wars, poverty and instability continue to force many to flee for Europe via the Mediterranean, but humanitarian organisations operating in the area say the Libyan Coast Guard often intervenes and illegally hauls people back to Libya. The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) recently stated that the number of migrants returned to Libya in 2022, as of March 26, amounts to 3,094.

Médicines Sans Frontièrs have even implied that the Coast Guard, trained and funded by the EU, may be deliberately sinking or otherwise destroying the ships of fleeing migrants and refugees.

Photo from Sea-Eye.

“There is no information about the whereabouts of 90 people, even if the probability of a push-back is very high in this case as well,” said Gorden Isler, Chairman of Sea-Eye e. V.

“A shipwreck that nobody will ever talk about again, because it’s obviously become a normality for us in Europe that black people fleeing to suffer such a fate is unfortunately also a possibility.”

Finding shelter for 106 rescued migrants

The 106 migrants rescued by Sea-Eye must now find a safe harbour in a country willing to accept them.

“If the people hadn’t been rescued, it would have been very unlikely that they would have survived, because the weather has changed suddenly in the last few days,” said Sea-Eye’s Isler.

Photo from Sea-Eye.

The ship will enter Maltese waters on Friday, one day before the Pope’s visit, which includes a meeting with migrants in a reception centre run by a Catholic organisation.

“Perhaps an unequivocal appeal by the Pope to the Maltese government can make Malta, as the closest EU state, feel responsible for 106 people seeking protection,” said Isler.

Another prominent search and rescue organisation, Sea-Watch International, has stated that in 2022 there have already been 340 people dead or missing when crossing the central Mediterranean route.

European Union ‘in part to blame’

This week, German authorities also announced that its military will stop training the Libyan Coast Guard over its implication in human rights violations.

A United Nations report last year said the EU was in part to blame for the deaths of such migrants attempting to cross the sea, which they said is the result of a failed system of migration governance, one that “fails to place the human rights of migrants at the centre of it.”

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Since 2015, there have been 23,688 missing migrants from attempts to cross the Mediterranean, according to the Missing Migrants Project (MMP).

“The Central Mediterranean is the deadliest known migration route in the world, with more than 17,000 deaths and disappearances recorded by MMP since 2014,” the MMP says.

“This is due both to the length of the overseas journey, which can take days, as well as increasingly dangerous smuggling patterns, gaps in search-and-rescue capacity and restrictions on the life-saving work of NGOs.”

Migrants often cross the Mediterranean sea in unseaworthy, overloaded inflatable boats, MMP explained, adding that multiple boats are sometimes launched at the same time, which “complicates search and rescue efforts significantly.”

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