SOS MEDITERRANEE: An icy reality at sea

Laurin Schmidt

At the end of November, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) alerted public opinion to “the latest developments in Libya where, within 48 hours, at least nine boats carrying more than 600 migrants were discovered in the central Mediterranean route”. In the following hours, more people left by sea, bringing the number of people reportedly trying to flee Libya by sea to over 700.

SOS MEDITERRANEE and the Ocean Viking rescued 215 people in three days, including 1/3 children under 18 and pregnant women.

At the beginning of December, however, 60 survivors are still waiting for a landing port. Nicholas Romaniuk points out that “the Ocean Viking has once again witnessed the chronic lack of coordination of rescues in the region”. According to the SOS MEDITERRANEAN Rescue Coordinator, “Merchant ships are left alone to rescue people at sea, with virtually no support for further operations. As for NGO vessels, they continue to be hindered in their rescue work. Yet many people continue to flee Libya. The only two options available to these people are to be taken back against their will [by the Libyan coast guard] or to die at sea. Preventing people from getting to safety and hindering rescue operations now seem to be acceptable options for some decision-makers in Europe”.

While crossing the Mediterranean is already dangerous in itself, those who attempt it face even greater risks in winter because not only are temperatures dropping, but waves are higher and storms are increasing. People in distress, who can drift for several days at sea, are more prone to hypothermia and heart attacks.

While a presence of humanitarian ships is restricted in winter, the teams on board the Ocean Viking continue their mission at all costs.

Your support is more urgent and vital than ever.


To learn more about our partner SOS MEDITERRANEE


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