3 million people died since the Omicron variant emerged, shattering perceptions that the pandemic is over.
After leaving the port of Barcelona on 4 November, the Open Arms vessel headed towards the Mediterranean for its 78th search and rescue mission, together with EMERGENCY. We have found ourselves having to operate in a difficult and dramatic context. There were many reports of boats in difficulty that needed to be rescued, but no humanitarian or governmental vessel in the area other than ours. We therefore carried out 3 rescue operations between 10 and 11 November.
During the first operation, north of Zuwara, the boat was in poor condition and taking on water. We rescued 88 people. The second took place north of Sabratha: we were alerted to the situation by an aircraft belonging to Frontex, which was unusual and has not happened since 2016. The dinghy had deflated and everyone on board was in the water. We recovered 113 people, including 7 women and 4 children, and 5 lifeless bodies. Unfortunately, in the hours following the rescue, a 6-month-old baby, who was already in a precarious condition, lost his life.
Finally, we recovered 64 people during the third operation which took place on 11 November. During the night of 11 November, we requested and obtained medical evacuation for 5 people who were in a serious condition, and for the young child’s lifeless body.
Currently, 259 people are hosted on board the Open Arms vessel (247 men and 12 women, including 80 minors, 76 of whom are unaccompanied), and 5 bodies (3 men and 2 women). The survivors, who come mainly from Eritrea, Togo, Sudan, Guinea, Burkina Faso, Somalia, Burundi, Ghana, Ethiopia, Ivory Coast, are in poor physical and psychological health and must be able to disembark in a safe harbor as soon as possible. At this moment our ship is located off the coast of Lampedusa, waiting to receive information on how and where to guarantee our guests the care they need.
EMERGENCY is an independent, neutral organisation, founded in 1994 to offer free, high-quality medical and surgical treatment to victims of war, landmines and poverty. Since then EMERGENCY has treated over 11 million people: one every minute. EMERGENCY promotes a culture of peace, solidarity and respect for human rights.
Open Arms is a non-governmental organisation that fights for human rights at sea. It began its rescue missions in September 2015 off Lesbos, in Greece, where it saved a thousand people in the Aegean Sea. In winter 2016 it extended its missions to the central Mediterranean, where in four months it saved 15,000 lives on board the ship Astral. Since it began its missions in this part of the Mediterranean, it has saved 26,500 people, 5,000 of them on board Open Arms. All thanks to charitable support.