skip to Main Content

Life Support Search and Rescue Updates

Despite Our Ability to Help,
We Were Told Not to Change Course

“During every stage of the rescue on 6 March, we kept in contact and informed the relevant authorities – Italian, Maltese, Libyan and Tunisian. At the end of the operations, the Rome headquarters of the Italian Coast Guard assigned us the port of Brindisi as a place of safety, instructing us to proceed as quickly as possible.

We did so, but while we were sailing we learned of many other boats in distress, south of Lampedusa. Although we were not very close to that area, we offered our availability to lend a hand, to intervene, to support recovery operations precisely because of the exceptional nature of the situation.


Despite our ability to help, the Italian Coast Guard told us not to change course or speed, and to continue towards Brindisi in compliance with Italy’s new law restricting NGOs conducting rescues at sea, warning us of the consequences we would face if we did not follow their orders.” – Emanuele Nannini, Project Coordinator onboard Life Support

10 March 2023
105 Rescued People Disembark in Brindisi

This morning, Life Support arrived at its assigned Place of Safety, the port of Brindisi, to disembark the 105 people rescued on 6 March. The youngest onboard is 2 years old.

“We were on a very small boat. The engine stopped working and we were taking on water,” recalls one of the rescued people from Ivory Coast. “It was night, we were all wet and all around us was darkness. I thought we would not make it. I prayed for all the people who were with me and I thought the whole time about my family and Marianne, the woman I love, who stayed in our country.”

The rescue operation lasted three hours due to the complex situation. The ship’s Captain, Domenico Pugliese, said, “If we had been late in arriving, even by a little, there would have been a tragedy.”

While the survivors are mostly in good health, many of their bodies show the marks of their time in Libya.

“Among the rescued people, there are many cases of dehydration and burns due to the mixture of sea water and fuel. They left the Libyan coasts already debilitated and faced a 12/14-hour journey without drinking,” reports Roberto Maccaroni, SAR Health Officer. “We have seen physical signs that testify to episodes of torture, the presence of previous traumas from the violence they suffered.”

07 March 2023
Life Support Rescues 105 People

Overnight, Life Support carried out a rescue in international waters.

59 men, 17 women (one of whom was seven months pregnant) and 29 minors (25 unaccompanied) were rescued from a rubber boat about 12 metres long, which could no longer sail because the engine had stopped working.

The Place of Safety assigned by the MRCC (Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre) is Brindisi.

01 March 2023
Life Support Sets Sail on Third Mission

Yesterday, Life Support set sail from the port of Augusta on its third mission to the Central Mediterranean. It will be the only humanitarian ship covering an extensive area, the only hope of rescue for boats leaving the coasts of North Africa, risking shipwrecks as well as interceptions and returns to Libya.

Emanuele Nannini, Programme Coordinator for Life Support, says, “We are here to rescue those who leave from the Libyan coast, an extremely risky journey especially at a time when the sea has been emptied of humanitarian ships due to the new Italian law, passed on 23 February, that restricts search and rescue activities.”

There are 27 crew members, doctors, mediators and rescuers onboard. We will continue to save lives at sea.

19 February 2023
Disembarkation of 156 People

The 156 people rescued at sea during the second Life Support mission disembarked this morning in the port of Civitavecchia.

They have left the deadly Central Mediterranean behind them. In and every voice and story we heard, there is gratitude for being alive, along with all the pain experienced in Libya.

“I am 26 years old but I have decided not to count the three years I spent in Libya, as if my life stopped there and only resumed today,” said Iusef on the day we rescued him.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by EMERGENCY NGO (

16 February 2023
Our Teams Rescue 156 People

In the early hours of the day, Life Support rescued 156 people from two different boats in distress that were in poor condition in international waters. We are currently monitoring their conditions and ensuring care for those in need. Read the press release about the rescues carried out and reports from colleagues onboard.

09 February 2023
Life Support departed from the port of Livorno

Today, Life Support departed from the port of Livorno, embarking on its second search and rescue mission in the Central Mediterranean.

On its first mission, the Life Support team saved 142 people during two consecutive night-time rescues. In 2022, 1,385 people were reported dead or missing in the Central Mediterranean – nearly 4 people every single day.

With our second mission, we will continue to defend human rights by offering direct assistance and care to those most in need, and save lives at sea.

22 December 2022
Life Support arrived in the port of Livorno

This morning, Life Support arrived in the port of Livorno with 142 people who were rescued from two different vessels in the Central Mediterranean.

The survivors come from Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Egypt, Eritrea, Guinea, Mali, Pakistan and Somalia. They have gruelling experiences of migration behind them, many have told us that they were arbitrarily detained in Libya where they suffered violence of various kinds.

They went to sea in crammed wooden boats, packed together and crushed for many hours, before being rescued by EMERGENCY’s team, who provided assistance and care.

We left on 13 December from Genoa with a single goal: to save lives on the most dangerous migration route on the planet. Thanks to those who have worked so hard to make this first mission a reality, from the team onboard to the everyone who worked to get Life Support ready over the past months.

To the men, women and children we met on this ship, we wish them good luck and a future filled with the dignity and human rights they are entitled to.


20 December 2022
“I want to live my life finally”

On Life Support, there is a group of Somali boys. They are skinny and exhausted.

They were rescued on Saturday 17 December from a wooden boat that left from the coast of Libya.

They sleep a lot, exchange a few words and smiles when awake, you can tell they are relieved.

One of them is L.C.

This is the first time I’ve slept in two years. I was in Libya, working as a builder so I could stay in the country and hoped to cross the sea. I always slept with one eye open at night because they would come and beat me when they felt like it. Sometimes maybe because I was doing something wrong without realising it, sometimes for no reason.
I would like to go to Frankfurt because I have relatives there. I want to live my life finally.

19 December 2022
Second Sea Rescue by Life Support

Life Support is on its way to Livorno – the Place of Safety assigned by the Italian MRCC. 142 rescued people are on board, following two separate night rescues, conducted 24 hours apart.

Due to the darkness and waves, the rescues were challenging for the EMERGENCY rescue team and the staff on board, Carlo (Project Coordinator for Life Support) tells us.

The ‘distressed’ boats we approached were wooden and overcrowded, with people stowed away in the hold. There was a risk of sudden capsizing due to the imbalance caused by the number and location of people on board.

Life Support set sail on 13 December from Genoa for its first mission at sea: all of the effort, commitment, and days without sleep are repaid by the looks on the faces of those who were rescued from such a precarious situation.

19 December 2022
Second Sea Rescue by Life Support

At approximately 4:30am, EMERGENCY’s Life Support vessel completed the rescue of 72 people who were in international waters, in the Maltese SAR zone, on a boat reported by Alarm Phone.

According to the survivors, the wooden boat, approximately 7 metres long, had left the Libyan coast on the evening of 17 December and had been in the water for more than 24 hours heading towards Lampedusa.

After spotting the boat at risk of capsizing, shortly after 1am, EMERGENCY’s Life Support informed all authorities and immediately activated the rescue team.

“Tonight’s rescue was complicated by sea conditions, which had worsened compared to the last few days, and due to the fact that people were situated on two levels inside the boat,” said Carlo Maisano, coordinator of EMERGENCY’s SAR Programme. “However, the rescue took place without any particular problems.”

Among the 72 survivors are 2 unaccompanied minors from Guinea, 2 Egyptians and 2 Eritreans. All the others are of Pakistani nationality.

“They are mostly dehydrated, due to the duration and conditions of the journey they have made. Our medical team is monitoring the rescued people,” reports Paola Tagliabue, Medical Officer on board Life Support.

The Life Support ship, which left the port of Genoa on 13 December for its first search and rescue mission in the Central Mediterranean, was on its way to Livorno, the Place of Safety assigned by the Italian National Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre, when it received the report of the boat in distress.

After this rescue, there are a total of 142 survivors on board Life Support, which has already sent the request for confirmation of the Place of Safety where they are to be disembarked as required by international regulations.

18 December 2022
EMERGENCY’s Life Support Vessel Has Completed Its First Sea Rescue In The Central Mediterranean

We are onboard Life Support now with 70 people. The rescue operation was done lastnight. At around 5am, we finished the recovery. Now, our medical staff is taking care of them. Everything is under control. The rescue operation was not easy because of the lack of light due to night, and conditions that were not stable because of the structure wooden boat, but everything went well because we had a professional team onboard, both in terms of the medical part and rescue. They ready to go on with this kind of operation. 

Carlo Maisano, Project Coordinator Life Support

Among the 70 people are 5 women, one of whom is 7 months pregnant, 2 children under the age of 2, and 24 unaccompanied minors aged 13 and over. They come from Somalia, Egypt, Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Burkina Faso and Mali. They are mostly dehydrated, there are a few cases of scabies, and one person is experiencing convulsions.

Life Support received a report from Alarm Phone of a boat in difficulty in the Libyan SAR area. After locating the boat, Life Support informed all authorities and immediately activated the rescue team.

It was a complex rescue, our team tell us, which ended at approximately 5am this morning.

A Libyan Coast Guard unit was present during the rescue operation and later recovered and destroyed the empty boat.

We asked for a port of safety where we could disembark the survivors. The port of Livorno was assigned to us by the Italian Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre at 10.59am.

14 December 2022
Life Support, EMERGENCY’s search and rescue ship, has launched its first mission into the Central Mediterranean Sea, one of the world’s most dangerous migration routes.

Over recent months, we have been working hard to prepare.

An EMERGENCY team is onboard, including a doctor, two nurses, two rescuers and two cultural mediators. Life Support has set sail to save lives. We are proud to join the civil fleet and defend human rights.

Emergency UK

Stay in touch with EMERGENCY UK’s newsletter

FR Fundraising Badge
Back To Top

Stay in touch with EMERGENCY

Sign up to hear more from our projects, staff and patients around the world.