3 million people died since the Omicron variant emerged, shattering perceptions that the pandemic is over.
On 10 November, Open Arms and EMERGENCY carried out a rescue mission in the Mediterranean Sea, involving 88 people in international waters, including two pregnant women. Yesterday, on 11 November Open Arms and EMERGENCY received a new report from a Frontex aerial unit about a dinghy in distress, located 30 miles north of Sabratha.
The #Mediterranean this morning: an inflatable dinghy carrying approximately 100 people sunk. Five of them died. Together with the #OpenArms team, we did all we could to rescue those who were on-board. All this happens just a few kilometres away from an indifferent Europe. pic.twitter.com/y7V06BwMSk
— EMERGENCY (English) (@emergency_ngo) November 11, 2020
The Open Arms vessel, which has an EMERGENCY team on board providing medical support, immediately headed towards this location and found itself having to conduct an extremely complicated rescue operation. The dinghy, with about 100 people on board, including children and pregnant women, had deflated. All its passengers were in the water without life jackets or any safety devices.
The rescue team intervened immediately, bringing as many people as possible to safety. Unfortunately the death toll currently stands at five people.
The medical team is assisting the survivors but some are in a worrying condition and six of them require immediate medical evacuation. At the moment, 199 survivors from the two missions are on board the ship.
Over the last two days, reports of boats in distress have been continuous and the Open Arms ship has found itself having to provide assistance alone, as it is the only vessel left to currently operate in the Mediterranean after all other humanitarian missions have been stopped under administrative pretexts.
For this reason, Open Arms and EMERGENCY reiterate, in the light of these tragic events, that it is no longer tolerable to witness the repeated failures of European governments. Instead of preparing a structured search and rescue system, they instead continue to bury their heads in the sand, pretending not to see the cemetery that the Mediterranean Sea has become.
The situation must change following this latest tragedy.
EMERGENCY is an independent, neutral organisation, founded in 1994 to offer free, high-quality medical and surgical treatment to victims of war, landmines and poverty. Since then EMERGENCY has treated over 11 million people: one every minute. EMERGENCY promotes a culture of peace, solidarity and respect for human rights.
Open Arms is a non-governmental organisation that fights for human rights at sea. It began its rescue missions in September 2015 off Lesbos, in Greece, where it saved a thousand people in the Aegean Sea. In winter 2016 it extended its missions to the central Mediterranean, where in four months it saved 15,000 lives on board the ship Astral. Since it began its missions in this part of the Mediterranean, it has saved 26,500 people, 5,000 of them on board Open Arms. All thanks to charitable support.