500 PEOPLE ON BOARD A BOAT THAT IS ALREADY TAKING ON WATER
ALBERT MAYORDOMO, MISSION COORDINATOR: “ONE OF THE BABIES ON BOARD WAS BORN LAST NIGHT. WE KNOW THAT MANY ON BOARD ARE PREGNANT WOMEN AND MINORS. A VERY SERIOUS SITUATION, YET MALTA AND ITALY ARE NOT RESPONDING TO REQUESTS FOR RESCUE COORDINATION.”
Five hundred people on board a boat that is already taking on water, including 45 women, several of whom are pregnant, and 56 children, one of whom was born last night: this is the situation facing the vessel that EMERGENCY’s Life Support search and rescue ship is currently sailing towards. Despite the seriousness of the situation, no authority has so far responded to the request for rescue coordination.
“The boat, which left days ago from Libya, is in the Maltese SAR zone. We will arrive at around 10pm tonight,” comments Albert Mayordomo, Life Support‘s Mission Coordinator. “We have been sailing at top speed since Alarm Phone reported the case yesterday. It is a real race against time, in an attempt to save the lives of as many people as possible.”
The vessel is in the Maltese Search and Rescue zone. As required by maritime conventions, EMERGENCY has approached the Maltese authorities to request the coordination of rescue. Since yesterday, Malta has not been responding to our written communications and the telephone numbers of the relevant Maltese authorities are not working and cannot be reached. EMERGENCY also forwarded its request to the Italian authorities: the National Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre replied that the case falls under Malta’s responsibility.
“The lack of coordination on the part of the authorities is a violation of the law of the sea, as well as of human rights, which is extremely serious: there are 500 people whose lives are endangered,” continues Albert Mayordomo. “Anyone has the right to be rescued, regardless of their documents and nationality.”
“On Life Support, the rescuers, health workers, mediators and logisticians are preparing to manage a complex situation,” continues Paolo Fusarini, Life Support’s captain. “The maritime weather conditions we are facing are not very favourable, with waves of one and a half metres, which will make the operation even more complex.”
We demand that the maritime authorities take over the coordination of the rescue operation immediately, before it becomes too late.
EMERGENCY’s Life Support ship has been conducting search and rescue activities since December 2022. So far, it has rescued 654 people.