COGS IN THE WHEEL OF PEACE Introduction by Rossella Miccio, President of EMERGENCY, in the…
Life Support Search and Rescue Updates
25 May 2023
No Sign Of Boat In Distress With 500 On Board
There is still no sign of the boat in distress in the Maltese SAR area that EMERGENCY’s Life Support vessel was going to rescue.
The boat, which had been in contact with the NGO Alarm Phone for two days, had 500 people on board, including at least 45 women, some of them pregnant, and 56 children, one of whom was born during the voyage. The details were communicated by the boat’s passengers to Alarm Phone by satellite phone.
EMERGENCY’s Life Support immediately headed towards the boat’s location to bring shipwrecked people to safety and carried out an active 24-hour search, but since yesterday afternoon, 24 May, there has been no contact from those on board and no trace of the vessel has been found.
The NGO Sea-Watch yesterday carried out a search on two consecutive days with its aircraft, Sea Bird, without finding any clues as to the vessel’s location. Neither Life Support nor Ocean Viking, which patrolled the area, found any signs of shipwreck. Therefore, and given the deteriorating weather, we will be forced to move to another area if we do not find the boat in the next few hours.
24 May 2023
Life Support En Route to 500 People in Distress
The lives of 500 people on a boat in the Maltese SAR zone are at risk.
People on board include 45 women, several of whom are pregnant, and 56 children – one of whom was born last night. Their boat is taking on water. Despite the seriousness of the situation, no authority has so far responded to the request for rescue coordination.
Life Support Mission Coordinator Albert gives an update:
3 May 2023
35 People Rescued by Life Support Disembark in Livorno
After four days of sailing to get from the rescue site to the Place of Safety in Livorno, 35 people rescued on Saturday by Life Support disembarked this morning.
“I was very moved by a young man who, after the rescue, was shaking and in a state of shock: after almost four days of sailing on the overcrowded and precarious vessel they had left on, he thought he would not make it,” says Ahmed, cultural mediator on board. “But in the four days of navigation it took to get from the rescue site to the port of disembarkation, we saw the people on board start to get better.”
The 35 rescued people come from Palestine, Syria and Bangladesh, and include an unaccompanied child.
According to the International Organization for Migration, April 2023 was the deadliest month for people crossing the Central Mediterranean since June 2018; 389 people have died or gone missing along the route.
European governments must organise search and rescue missions in the Mediterranean, and ensure safe and legal routes for migration.
30 April 2023
They had travelled without water or food for almost four days
On a 9-metre boat, they had travelled without water or food for almost four days: the 35 people rescued at 7:20 p.m. yesterday by Life Support in international waters are now safe.
They come from Palestine, Syria, Bangladesh: countries affected by violence, humanitarian crises and food insecurity. Among them is also an unaccompanied child.
“The Italian authorities assigned us the port of Livorno for disembarkation, 4 days and almost 670 nautical miles away from the rescue site,” reports Albert Mayordomo, Project Coordinator on board Life Support. “Assigning distant ports does not comply with international law and unreasonably postpones the assistance the rescued people need.”
Shortly before our rescue, another boat was rescued by a commercial vessel. They are being returned to Libya, in violation of international rules.
19 April 2023
55 Rescued People Disembark at Marina di Carrara
Today, Life Support concluded its fifth mission as 55 rescued people disembarked at Marina di Carrara. The distant port required an extra 2.5 days of sailing through challenging conditions, subjecting the people on board to further distress. Emanuele Nannini, EMERGENCY’s Project Coordinator on board, comments, “Assigning a distant port not only violates international conventions on the law of the sea, but is also cruelty to the rescued people: people who had the right to be brought ashore as soon as possible.”
Among the rescued people, originating from countries experiencing armed conflicts and humanitarian crises, were victims of torture, women fleeing forced marriages and young people who had tried repeatedly to escape Libya but were intercepted and returned each time.
“In Libya, I spent several months in prison,” recalls a 23-year-old Nigerian man. “I watched people die from beatings. There were no windows, they seldom took us outdoors and when it happened I was horrified: in the outside areas of the prison we only saw corpses piled up. They made me call my brother to ask for money. When I finally got out of there I was unrecognisable: my leg was broken, I couldn’t walk, I had been beaten on my genitals and I couldn’t urinate.”
“I am an orphan of both parents, and I left my country because it was at war,” says one of the unaccompanied children on board. “I was told Libya was a very easy passage to Europe. Instead, I stayed there for three years. I was imprisoned there, both by the militias and the traffickers. They wanted me to pay more money for the sea journey: they would undress me, hang me on a hook and torture me. Meanwhile they were filming me so that I would send the video to my family, but I had no one in the world to ask for money and help. That is why, when I saw the dinghy in which we were going to cross the sea, I was not afraid. I was only interested in leaving Libya. When we were without engines in the middle of the sea, completely adrift, everyone on board thought they were going to die and were anxious, but I was ready for any fate. It was enough for me to know that I was no longer in that cursed place.”
15 April 2023
Here in the Mediterranean, we see the real humanitarian crisis on Europe’s shores
We had been at sea for over 12 hours. After a few hours of sailing, the engine stopped working and we started taking on water. We were terrified. Many of us burst into tears when we saw your ship coming to the rescue.”
Today, our search and rescue vessel Life Support rescued 55 people.
When we approached, we found a boat in a very dangerous condition:
“It was so overloaded that many people were riding on the tubulars. The smell of petrol was strong. Their bodies were soaked in petrol, many had burns on their legs and bruises from the conditions of the voyage,” says Albert, one of our rescuers.
Here in the Mediterranean, we see the real humanitarian crisis on Europe’s shores. Today we rescued 55 people, but we will never know how many more, in the same hours, were taken back to Libya or were shipwrecked and drowned in silence.
3 April 2023
Testimonies from Rescued People On Board Life Support
On board Life Support, crew members not only provide critical medical assistance to the people we rescue, but also bear witness to their stories.
One 28-year-old woman and her two-year-old twins were part of the 161 people rescued by Life Support in March. She told us:
I was so afraid for my children. We were at sea for three days, stranded, adrift. Without food, without water. I thought, if something happens to my children, I will never forgive myself.
Learn more about her and others’ stories:
31 March 2023
Chief Officer John MacLeod is critical to Life Support’s search and rescue efforts. Ahead of Mission 5, he explains why he is onboard
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28 March 2023
EMERGENCY completed the disembarkation of 161 people rescued between the night and morning of 25 March
In the port of Ortona, at 3pm today, EMERGENCY completed the disembarkation of 161 people rescued between the night and morning of 25 March by the ship Life Support in three different rescue operations. All operations at sea were carried out in coordination with the Italian Coast Guard.
On 25 March, EMERGENCY’s ship #LifeSupportSAR rescued 161 people in the #Med during 3 different rescues coordinated with the Italian Coastguard.
We have now begun disembarkation procedures at the port of #Ortona #Italy. pic.twitter.com/eEgPp7ECe9
— EMERGENCY NGO (@emergency_ngo) March 28, 2023
Italian authorities continue to assign Places of Safety far from the rescue areas, extending NGO search and rescue missions.
“Compared to the time it would have taken to reach closer ports, like in Sicily, arriving in Ortona meant an additional two days of sailing. International law stipulates that they should have been taken to a Place of Safety as soon as possible. Life Support could have already been on its way back to international waters to save more lives,” comments Emanuele Nannini, Programme Coordinator on board Life Support. “To reach the port we faced adverse and particularly challenging maritime weather conditions: last night the waves were four metres high and the conditions were difficult both for the crew and for the rescued people on board, who suffered greatly.”
The 161 people are from Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Congo, Ivory Coast, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Somalia, South Sudan and Sudan. Over a third of the survivors are children (61), seven of whom are accompanied and 54 unaccompanied. There are also 26 women on board, three of whom are pregnant.
“We want to return to the Mediterranean as soon as possible, making ourselves available to the competent authorities at sea. During this last mission, we received many reports of boats in trouble in the Mediterranean and especially on the Tunisian route,” continues Nannini. “In fact, we witnessed the effects of Tunisia’s recent policies towards foreigners on its territory and the serious economic crisis that is afflicting the country. On board, the survivors told us how Tunisia risks becoming the new Libya: arbitrary arrests and police violence, armed robberies without anyone intervening, houses set on fire because they are inhabited by foreigners.”
The people EMERGENCY rescued had left from Zwara, Libya, in the first case, and from Sfax, Tunisia, in the second and third. In the latter two cases, the people spent more than three days drifting at sea.
25 March 2023
They were travelling on overcrowded and drifting boats
Today, EMERGENCY’s Life Support vessel rescued 161 people in the Mediterranean Sea during three rescue operations.
Among them were numerous children and babies who had not eaten or drunk for hours, as well as pregnant women.
They were travelling on overcrowded and drifting boats. Some could not stand, “we had to lift them ourselves” says Alberto, a rescuer. “Once they were rescued on board the ship, two people fainted”.
We are now on our way to Ortona, the port assigned to us by the Italian authorities.
But there is still a need in the Mediterranean: we have informed the authorities of the presence of at least four other boats in distress, on the route between Tunisia and Lampedusa, and reiterated our readiness to support the authorities in search and rescue operations.
25 March 2023
They have travelled for more than 20 hours without drinking or eating
Overnight, Life Support rescued 78 people in international waters who were sailing on a 12-metre dinghy. At the time of the rescue, the vessel was already taking on water.
“It was 9pm when we received a report of a boat in difficulty in international waters,” says Emanuele Nannini, Project Coordinator onboard Life Support. “When we arrived on the scene, we found the vessel overcrowded and adrift, with no possibility of using the engine because it had run out of petrol. The dinghy was already structurally damaged – its tubulars were almost deflated. We informed all the authorities and immediately started rescue activities.”
The survivors include 3 women, 1 of whom is pregnant, 28 unaccompanied minors, including a 9-year-old boy, and 2 accompanied children aged 6 and 8.
“From an initial assessment, they are all exhausted and dehydrated. In the coming hours we will examine individual cases.”
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.
#LifeSupportSAR began disembarking 156 rescued people at the port of #Civitavecchia. All adults and minors are in good health. pic.twitter.com/Aesleejq7D
— EMERGENCY NGO (@emergency_ngo) February 19, 2023
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.
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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.