The four rescue operations conducted by EMERGENCY’s search and rescue ship Life Support throughout the night of Thursday 20 July were completed at 10:30 am today.184 people were rescued. All the rescues took place in international waters, within the Maltese search and rescue zone. The first boat came from Libya and the other three from Tunisia.
Of the 184 people rescued, 26 are women, of whom two are pregnant, and 56 are children, of whom 26 are unaccompanied. The rescued people come from Benin, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Gambia, Guinea, Egypt, Eritrea, Mali, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Syria and Sudan. Many of these countries suffer from food insecurity, political instability, climate change and conflict.
As Yohanes Ghebray Tsegay, cultural mediator on board Life Support, recounts: “The first boat left from Zwara, Libya, on the night of 17-18 July, while the other three left from Sfax, Tunisia. Many of the people rescued are from sub-Saharan Africa and started their journey months ago, but some have been travelling for years.”
The first vessel was reported by Frontex and Alarm Phone, while the next three distress cases were reported by the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) in Rome. The only rescue vessel present in the area was EMERGENCY’s Life Support which, after informing the relevant authorities, immediately went to the scene to carry out rescue operations.
“The rescued people are very dehydrated and had spent far too much time stuck in uncomfortable crouched positions,” says Virginia Gatto, doctor on board Life Support. “In the next few hours the medical team on board will examine individual cases and continue to monitor the general condition of the rescued people.”
“Since yesterday evening, Life Support has carried out four rescue operations for a total of 184 people brought to safety,” reports Carlo Maisano, EMERGENCY’s Life Support Mission Coordinator. “The first vessel was reported to us by both Frontex and civilian assets. After the rescue, we noted that these people had left from Libya, from Zwara, and were mainly Syrians and Egyptians. Our medical staff on board took care of them. After announcing the end of operations, the MRCC in Rome asked us to investigate four more possible cases of distress a few miles away from us.”
“We came across three more boats, but this time from Sfax, Tunisia, which were rescued and the people brought to safety on Life Support. The situation on the Tunisian migratory route has worsened dramatically in recent weeks.”
After completing the rescue operations and informing the relevant authorities, Life Support requested a Place of Safety (POS) where the 184 shipwrecked people could be disembarked. The MRCC in Rome assigned first Lampedusa, where 13 people in excess of the ship’s reception capacity were disembarked, and then the port of Taranto as the POS for the rest of the people on board.
Life Support is EMERGENCY’s search and rescue vessel and has been active in the Central Mediterranean, the world’s deadliest migration route, since December 2022. There were at least 1,668 deaths on this route in 2023 alone. EMERGENCY’s Life Support has rescued 867 people so far.