Ravenna, 25 September 2023. This afternoon, 28 people rescued by EMERGENCY’s search and rescue ship Life Support completed disembarkation in the port of Ravenna. After more than four days of navigation, including two in rough seas and adverse weather conditions, all have disembarked safely. The rescue took place on Thursday 21 September, in the international waters of the Maltese SAR Zone.
Ravenna, the Place of Safety (POS) assigned by the Italian Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC), is about 740 miles away from where the rescue took place – more than four days of navigation away.
“We have just completed the disembarkation operations of the 28 people on board after a rescue in international waters on 21 September,” reported Emanuele Nannini, Life Support Head of Mission. “Our navigation has been complicated by bad weather, especially during the last two days in the Adriatic as we approached Ravenna, the distant port assigned to us by the authorities; unfortunately, both the rescued people and the crew suffered seasickness. As of tomorrow we will start preparing for the next mission, which should begin in early October.”
The boat in distress, a dinghy about six metres long, had been sailing for more than 48 hours before being rescued by Life Support. The engine was broken and the boat’s keel had cracked during the journey, putting the people on board at serious risk. The distress case was reported to us by Frontex and Colibrì, the aircraft of Pilotes Volontaires, while the rescue operations were coordinated by the Italian MRCC.
“After the rescue, we informed the relevant authorities that we would be available to assist with other distress cases since the area we were in was not covered by other vessels and we still had capacity to accommodate many more people,” explains Nannini. “Unfortunately, the Italian MRCC assigned us the port of Ravenna, more than four days’ sailing from where we carried out the rescue. It is unacceptable to assign such distant ports, especially when there are no other rescue vessels in the operational area.”
Among the 28 rescued people are nine women and eight children, one of whom is unaccompanied. They come from Syria, Egypt and Libya.
“When I was a child my family and I had to flee to Jordan because life in Syria is very difficult. Some parts of the country have lots of conflict, there is no freedom of expression and I could not have any kind of education,” says a 23-year-old Syrian woman. “In Jordan, only locals could go to school in the daytime and foreigners could only attend evening classes. It took me two hours to get to school, and during the day I worked, even as a child. It was very difficult to attend classes and receive a proper education, having to go to school in the evening when I was so tired. I decided to leave because I would like to study nursing and midwifery, but university in Jordan is much more expensive for foreigners. I hope to be able to complete my studies in Europe and be able to help people, like you do on board this ship.”
“I never knew what freedom was, ever,” says a 42-year-old Syrian man. “All my life I lived in fear and confinement, too scared to leave my country but at the same time too scared to go out and protest against what was happening around me. Some of my acquaintances have disappeared for much less, no one knows what happened to them: denouncing the situation in your city or Syria in general can cost you your life. 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.”
Life Support is EMERGENCY’s search and rescue vessel in the Central Mediterranean sea. Operational since December 2022, Life Support has rescued 1,011 people.