(20 July 2016) Today the MV Aquarius, a search and rescue vessel run in partnership between Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and SOS MEDITERRANEE rescued 209 people from two rubber dinghies in distress on the Central Mediterranean. The team also recovered the bodies of 21 women and 1 man who had died at sea.
“When our team approached the first dinghy, they saw dead bodies lying at the bottom of the boat in a pool of fuel” said Jens Pagotto, MSF Head of Mission for Search and Rescue Operations. “The survivors had been on the boat with the bodies of these women for hours on end. Many are too traumatized from what they have endured to be able to talk about what had happened. It’s still unclear exactly how these women died. “
“What is clear is that this loss of life was unnecessary and is the result of an insufficient and inadequate global response to this crisis. Policies that try and keep people away are not working. How many more lives will have to be lost at sea before people in need of assistance and protection are provided with a safer alternative?”
The teams took two hundred and nine people on board the MV Aquarius from the rubber boats (177 men and 32 women). MSF teams continue to work to provide medical care and support to the survivors on board.
The 209 people rescued include two pregnant women and 50 children, of whom 45 are travelling without parents or guardians.
Please do not hesitate to contact Gemma Gillie email@example.com or 07770235740 for further information or interview requests.