Post-Rescue Assistance in the Mediterranean Sea

Italy - Mediterranean Sea

Post-rescue assistance in the Mediterranean Sea

In the central Mediterranean Sea, the world’s most dangerous migratory route, the number of migrants who died at sea in the first half of 2021 exceeded the total number recorded during the whole of 2020: 1,106 deaths in the first six months of 2021, compared to 984 throughout 2020.

The number of migrants held in official immigration detention centres in Libya is also increasing: more than 5,000 people, not counting those held in unofficial centres.

The Libyan government continues to allow migrants to be victims of constant abuse and violence, condemned by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on 26 May. Despite this, Libya remains an interlocutor with the Italian government in its attempt to stem migration by keeping as many migrants as possible out of Europe.

Faced with the suffering of another human being, it is our duty not to look the other way: that is why we are asking, once again, for legal and safe channels of access. And until Europe responds, we will be with those who save, with those who welcome, with those who do not turn away. We believe that human life is an absolute value and we do not want to helplessly watch a massacre that is repeated every year. 

For this reason, our team of doctors, nurses and cultural mediators is taking part in the sea rescue mission organised by Proactiva Open Arms.


The project

Since late August 2020, an EMERGENCY team consisting of a doctor, nurse and cultural mediator have been on board the Open Arms Vessel in the Mediterranean Sea provide medical assistance.

The ship will follow medical protocols informed by the infection prevention procedures that EMERGENCY has been utilising in its projects around the world throughout recent months. These include measures to manage flows of people, as well as look out for and report any suspected cases among survivors who are rescued. The crew will also be given swab tests before they set off and once they come back into port, so that any positive cases can be identified immediately.

“We think human lives should be saved even during this pandemic and that it can be done in safety. So, bolstered by our years of experience managing epidemics, we will be taking all the necessary measures on Open Arms to minimise the risk of contagion and protect our crew and the people we rescue.”

Rossella Miccio, president of EMERGENCY

Previous missions

In previous years, we have already been involved in SAR missions in the central Mediterranean, in collaboration with other organisations.

During summer 2019 and early 2020, we partnered with Proactiva Open Arms to offer medical assistance to migrants on board. In August 2019, our staff also joined ‘Mission 65’, when 107 people were rescued from the sea and kept on board Open Arms off the coast of Lampedusa for more than 20 days; eventually leading to an investigation into whether the then Ministry of the Interior was guilty of kidnap.

We save lives. Nobody left behind.

We are back at sea to provide medical support to those risking their lives fleeing from violence and poverty.