Life Support Search and Rescue Updates

19

Missions completed

1,631

People rescued

2022

Start of activities

6 May 2024
87 Rescued People Disembark in Naples

On the morning of 6 May, 87 people rescued by Life Support disembarked in Naples, completing mission 19.

“It took us three days of navigation to reach the assigned port of Naples,” says Domenico Pugliese, commander of Life Support“The choice of assigning a distant port exposes the shipwrecked people to further unjustified suffering, when they should be disembarked as soon as possible in a safe place. We now wish them the best for the future.”

On board, one 20-year-old boy from Niger told us:

I was 13 years old and I realised that I had to run away if I wanted to live. I arrived in Libya in 2021. My Libyan boss paid me a pittance and got rich thanks to me. One day I told him that I would always be the one working and he the one enjoying my work: he started beating me. This is how it works in Libya: if you have dark skin, you have no rights and it takes little to be killed. After three years in these conditions, I decided I had to leave. No one decides to leave their country and their family and risk their life if they are not forced to do so by wars, poverty or political repression.”

For more details on Life Support‘s 19th mission and statements from some of the people rescued, read the full press release.

3 May 2024
Life Support Rescues 87 People

On 4 May, the Life Support crew rescued 87 people from an overcrowded boat in distress. The vessel’s tubes were deflated and it had been taking on water for hours.

Among the survivors are eight women, one of whom is pregnant, three children, and fourteen unaccompanied minors. They had no food or water on board.

“The health conditions of those rescued seem good,” reports Sara, one of the nurses on board. “We immediately took charge of the most vulnerable cases: a pregnant woman in her fourth month and a diabetic boy. The children on board are doing well despite the difficult journey they faced and the previous traumas.”

We are now heading towards Naples, the port assigned by the Italian authorities.

10 April 2024
“We experienced the spirit of Ramadan on Life Support.”

“It was difficult to keep the spirit of Ramadan during our journey. Fasting is more than a mechanical act dictated by the sun: it is about sociality, being together, sharing good food and good thoughts. None of this happened while I was in Libya: we didn’t have food, we were starving and couldn’t share anything.”

Among the 202 people who disembarked today in Ravenna was A., a 60-year-old man from Syria. Many of the survivors were observing the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, which ends today with the celebration of Eid al-Fitr.

“At home in Damascus, a part of our fasting is also giving food to poor people that can’t afford it. The spirit of Ramadan is about fraternity, about morality. We didn’t experience this in Libya, but we saw it on board your ship.”

10 April 2024
202 Survivors Disembark in Ravenna

This morning, the 202 people rescued by Life Support disembarked in the port of Ravenna after four days of navigation. Among the rescued are 15 women and 18 minors, of whom eight are unaccompanied. Their nationalities include Bangladesh, Egypt, Eritrea, Ghana, Pakistan, Palestine and Syria.

5 April 2024
200 People Rescued in the Libyan SAR Region

Early this morning, Life Support rescued 200 people from two overcrowded boats. Among them are 21 women and 14 minors, 8 of whom are unaccompanied.

“We had one urgent medical case: a boy arrived unconscious. After initial treatment, his condition improved, but we continue to monitor him closely,” reports Sara, a nurse on board.

Travelling close together, both boats had departed from Libya – one from Sabratha and the other from Zawiya. The rescue took place in international waters, in the Libyan SAR region.

The Italian MRCC assigned Ravenna as Place of Safety, about four days of navigation from the rescue site. Once again, a distant port assignment forces people already exhausted and in vulnerable conditions to spend further days at sea, instead of disembarking as soon as possible.

3 April 2024
“Saving Lives in the Abandoned Sea”: New Search and Rescue Report

In December 2022, Life Support set sail on its first mission. Over the next year, it would complete 15 missions and 24 rescues, saving 1,219 people in the central Mediterranean.

EMERGENCY’s latest report “Saving Lives in the Abandoned Sea: One Year of Life Support” tells the story of the first year of our ship’s search and rescue missions: the outcomes, the difficulties and obstacles encountered by the shipwrecked people and our team in the central Mediterranean, the political and humanitarian context, and the approach to migration across Italy and Europe.

Through survivors’ testimonies and moments from our own search and rescue (SAR) operations, we show what it means to save lives at sea and our collective duties under international maritime and human rights law – despite European political disengagement.

21 March 2024
Disembarkation in Ravenna

After four days of sailing, 71 people rescued by Life Support have disembarked in Ravenna.The rescued people originally came from Bangladesh, Egypt and Eritrea.

On board, one Bangladeshi man shared his story, after years of trying to secure a work permit abroad so that he could support his family:

My family is very poor and had to sell everything they had for me to afford the journey. Over many years I have spent a lot of money, I have applied for visas to go to other countries: Croatia, Saudi Arabia, Romania, Algeria, Singapore, even South Africa. After years of waiting and bureaucratic difficulties, I realised that I would not be able to leave through legal channels. I was forced to go to Libya. In this world, there is a lot of discrimination for poor people; in my country, politicians and businessmen get visas without problems and do not have to wait years for a response that never comes. It is not just a problem in my country. In Libya, I met many people who were trying to make the same journey as me because they could not get visas to reach Europe legally. We had one thing in common: poverty.

17 March 2024
71 People Rescued by Life Support

Among the 71 people rescued overnight by Life Support are a woman and three children. They had been at sea for over 24 hours.

The authorities assigned Ravenna for disembarkation, a port about four days of navigation from where the rescue took place. The continued practice of assigning distant ports forces the survivors, already exhausted, to spend more time at sea instead of disembarking as quickly as possible.

12 March 2024
52 Rescued People Disembark in Catania

The 52 people rescued yesterday by Life Support have disembarked in Catania, Sicily.

“As soon as we welcomed the 52 rescued people on board, our medical staff took care of the cases of dehydration and fatigue,” reported Sara, one of our nurses on board. “During the journey to Catania, they mainly suffered from seasickness due to the difficult weather conditions we encountered. We hope they will have a better life in the near future.”

11 March 2024
52 People Rescued in Libyan SAR Zone

On the morning of 11 March, Life Support responded to a distress case spotted in the international waters of the Libyan SAR Zone after an alert from the NGO Alarm Phone. The 52 rescued people, including a woman and an unaccompanied child, were found on board a 10-metre wooden vessel without any life vests. They came from Bangladesh, Egypt, Nigeria, Pakistan and Syria.

Our medical team is working to assess the rescued people while the ship heads toward Catania, the assigned Place of Safety for disembarkation.

10 March 2024
Life Support Denied Possibility to Rescue

On the evening of 9 March, Life Support was denied the opportunity to intervene in aid of 40 shipwrecked people who were spotted on board the Tunisian gas platform MISKAR in the Maltese SAR zone.

The NGO ship refused to assist in the transfer of the people to a Tunisian naval asset, because Tunisia is not a safe country to bring shipwrecked people to. So far, the MISKAR platform has provided no information on the situation.

01 March 2024
Life Support Prepares for Mission 16

Preparations are underway for our return to search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean.

Life Support is our answer to closed borders, to externalisation policies, to a Europe that continues to ignore its responsibilities.

18 December 2023
21 Rescued People Disembark in Marina di Carrara

For many people, migration means facing violence, abuse, death.

Facing a Europe of containment policies, of externalised borders, of “cooperation agreements” with states that are unsafe for those fleeing, our idea is simple: to be welcomed is a right, to save lives is a duty.

23 November 2023
21 Rescued People Disembark in Marina di Carrara

After more than 72 hours of navigation in poor weather conditions and heavy seas, the 21 people rescued earlier this week have disembarked at the port of Marina di Carrara.

There is no reason to assign such distant ports, forcing already fragile people to stay at sea even longer,” comments Emanuele, Head of Mission. “This also distances the ships of the civil fleet from the places where their presence is needed and where shipwrecks continue to occur.”

20 November 2023
21 People Rescued on Mission 15

This morning, Life Support rescued 21 people in distress in the Mediterranean, in the Maltese search and rescue zone. Among the rescued was an unaccompanied child.

 

 

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18 November 2023
A. wants to work as a humanitarian.

Because of war, A. had to leave his home in Syria in 2017.

Standing on the deck of Life Support, he told us, “There is a lot of instability in Syria, it’s really dangerous. You can be kidnapped or killed at any time, for no reason.”

He lived in Sudan and then Lebanon, but was unable to earn a living: “I worked for the Red Cross and Red Crescent, it was a job I was very passionate about but I had to leave Lebanon because of the economic crisis that has affected the country in recent years.”

Then, A. told us, he went to Libya where, he was discriminated against every day because he was a foreigner. So he made the extreme decision: to take a boat to Europe.

From that boat, we brought him to safety on board our ship. Now that he has arrived in Europe, his biggest dream is “to be able to work again in the humanitarian field. To help people.”

14 November 2023
F.L. Dreams of a Better Life

“I am from Tigray, Ethiopia. I fled my country because of the war.

For more than a year in my region there has been an obligation for at least one family member, including women, to enlist – otherwise you are killed.

Only my mother and I are left in my family. She told me to leave before the militia came looking for me. I first ran away to Addis Ababa, but there I could not study or work…

If they had found out I was from Tigray they would have imprisoned me and sent me back. So I fled to Sudan and then to Libya, where I spent eight months in prison.

Sometimes they would hang us by our feet and beat us with pipes, calling our families so they would hear our screams and send the ransom money faster.

My mother had to sell her flat to free me. I just want to live a life of dignity and freedom.

F.L., 21, rescued in November 2023

11 November 2023
Finally safe in Brindisi, Italy

When we rescued them between 8 and 9 November, they were trying to cross the Mediterranean on fragile and overloaded boats, facing a sea with 3-metre high waves.

Now those 118 people are finally safe in Brindisi, Italy, where they disembarked this morning.

“All the rescued people are well, they are certainly exhausted by the journey. Among them there are some very sensitive cases of people who have suffered violence and torture in Libya that we hope will be taken care of by the local authorities,” explains Emanuele Nannini, Head of Mission.

In the coming days, Life Support will prepare for its next mission, which we hope will begin in the middle of next week.”

9 November 2023
118 People Rescued in Two Operations

Between 8 and 9 November, Life Support rescued 118 people in two operations, including four unaccompanied children.

“Adverse weather conditions made the rescues very complex. During the second rescue there were about three-metre waves,” reports Emanuele Nannini, Head of Mission. Both operations were carried out in international waters in the Maltese SAR Zone.

We were alerted to the status and coordinates of the first distress case by Alarm Phone. The 10-metre wooden vessel was carrying 77 people, had almost run out of fuel and started taking on water. The second case was reported by the Italian MRCC and several commercial vessels that spotted the boat at dawn. The small fibreglass boat had several cracks and took on more water with every wave; the 41 people on board were constantly emptying the hull with buckets.

According to our rescue team, both boats were at immediate risk of capsizing. None of the rescued people were wearing life jackets before the arrival of Life Support.

We are now heading for the port of Brindisi, the Place of Safety assigned by the Italian MRCC.

12 October 2023
“I just want to live in peace and freedom.”

Life Support Mission 13 Archive Photo

I., a 27-year-old man from Syria, told us this on board Life Support. He was one of 69 people rescued by the ship in October.

He left his country, he says, “because of the difficult living conditions and political situation. Because of the war, when a young man comes of age he is obliged to serve in the army for several years, usually ten.”

“I left because I did not want to become a soldier, I wanted to finish my studies in law. It was not easy to get here and I am sure there will be more difficulties once I arrive in Europe, but I am determined and I do not want to lose hope. I just want to support my family as much as I can and repay Europe for its welcome.

10 October 2023
Rescued People Disembark in Livorno

The 69 people rescued over the weekend disembarked in Livorno this evening.

“Unfortunately, sailing to Livorno took us several extra days, delaying our presence in the Mediterranean,”  says Emanuele Nannini, Head of Mission.

All of the rescued people came from countries suffering from violence, political and economic instability, and environmental disasters. Among them were six women and 17 children, 11 of whom were unaccompanied.

“Although there were many different cultures, lifestyles and personal stories on board, everyone got along very well and we spent the days sailing in an environment of solidarity and friendship,” said Giulia Galati, Cultural Mediator on board. “I felt this from the moment we carried out the second rescue, when I saw that the people from the previous rescue were hugging and helping those who had just arrived.”

8 October 2023
69 People Rescued in 3 Missions

Between 7 and 8 October, Life Support rescued 69 people in three separate missions.

After the first rescue of 21 people on the evening of 7 October, Livorno was assigned as the Place of Safety. En route to Livorno, the Italian MRCC coordinated two more rescues on the morning of 8 October. 

“Among them, there is a four-year-old girl who was born with a disability. Fortunately, she is accompanied by her parents,” says Roberto, the Health Coordinator on board.

After the third rescue, we resumed heading toward Livorno but have made ourselves available to the authorities for further rescues. “We continue to monitor the surrounding waters in case there are other boats in difficulty,” explains Emanuele, Head of Mission.

We will continue to do our part to help those in need.

25 September 2023
28 People Rescued by Life Support Disembark in Ravenna

After four days and 740 nautical miles of navigation, the 28 people rescued by Life Support have finally disembarked.

We had to travel all the way to Ravenna, in the northeast of Italy – a port four days away from the rescue site, with the last two spent in rough sea conditions.

The justification given for this port assignment was not to burden the operations of other Italian ports, despite only 28 rescued people on board.

The practise of assigning distant ports is keeping civil rescue ships away from the Mediterranean, the deadliest migration route in the world.

25 September 2023
Update from Emanuele, Head of Mission

 

21 September 2023
28 People Rescued by Life Support

28 people rescued by Life Support in the international waters of the Maltese SAR zone. Among the rescued are nine women and eight children, one of whom is unaccompanied. They come from Syria, Libya and Egypt.

“I never knew what freedom was, ever,” says a 42-year-old Syrian man. “Three months ago, I left because I could no longer find enough work to provide for my loved ones. I had to find a solution. Since I’ve been on board I have understood for the first time what it means to feel free.”

7 September 2023
F. left Egypt to feed his family.

“I left Egypt because life there had become untenable: I couldn’t find work, everything is too expensive, it was difficult even to afford food. Sometimes I couldn’t even buy bread for my brothers and sisters… Is that living?”

F. left Egypt so that he could feed his family. “It is my responsibility,” said the 26-year-old.

He lived in Libya for three months. “Enough time for me to see horrible things.”

“I was imprisoned along with other Egyptians,” he told us. “They kept us in a very small house, treated us like animals. They beat us every day, sometimes for no reason, sometimes to get our family members to send them more money. It was terrible.”

When he saw Life Support, F. recounts, “I thought you were Libyans. I was going to jump into the sea, I would have rather drowned than return to prison in Libya. I still can’t believe I was brought to safety.”

2 September 2023
N. left Syria for her son’s future.

“Sometimes, while we were in Libya, I thought about going back. We were living in poor hygienic conditions, especially for such a small child, who needs constant attention. But the only chance we had to give him a better life was across the sea.”

As she told us her story on the deck of Life Support, N. held her son in her arms. He is just 7 months old.

“We had to sell the family home,” she continued. “Only my husband stayed in Syria, taking care of his parents. They are elderly and cannot move.”

Now, on land, she hopes to reach her brother in Germany and give her son a better future, away from war.

23 August 2023
Today, A. and the other rescued people disembarked in Ortona, Italy.

“I wanted to go back to Sudan, to see my family, but the situation there had only gotten worse,” explains A.F., 30. He is one of 40 people rescued by Life Support during its latest mission in the Mediterranean.

A. comes from Darfur, a region in Sudan that has experienced war, famine, floods and epidemics. Today, it is one of the areas most affected by ongoing fighting in the country: yesterday, a rocket fell into the garden of our Paediatric Centre in Nyala, fortunately without doing any damage.

“Before I left, years ago, some of my friends and family were killed. But I suffered in Libya, there was strong racial discrimination. So I tried to cross the Mediterranean.”

A. was a victim of refoulement – illegal push-backs at sea. He was imprisoned for several months in Libya, and was only able to embark again after paying a ransom.

Today, A. and the other rescued people disembarked in Ortona, Italy.

19 August 2023
40 People Rescued

EMERGENCY’s search and rescue ship Life Support rescued 40 men and boys in international waters. They had set off from Khoms, Libya, in a fibreglass boat.

“We have just completed the rescue of 40 people in international waters, they are now all safe on board,” says Carlo Maisano, Head of Mission

The rescued people come from Bangladesh, Egypt, Pakistan, Syria and Sudan, and all seem to be in relatively good health.Life Support is now on its way to its assigned Place of Safety, Ortona.

This page shows updates from Life Support‘s latest missions. For updates from Life Support‘s previous missions, please see the archived update page for missions 1 through 10, which rescued 943 people.

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