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MSF resumes Mediterranean Sea rescue operations




Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)/Doctors Without Borders announces the resumption of life-saving search and rescue operations in the Central Mediterranean, and condemns the criminal inaction of European governments.

The return to sea comes after a sustained two-year campaign by EU governments to stop virtually all humanitarian action at sea, and the normalization of vindictive policies that have caused deaths at sea and suffering in conflict ridden Libya. In December 2018, MSF search and rescue vessel Aquarius was forced to end its operations.

“Politicians would have you believe that the deaths of hundreds of people at sea, and suffering of the thousands of refugees and migrants trapped in Libya, are the acceptable price of attempts to control migration,” said Sam Turner, MSF Head of Mission for Search and Rescue and Libya.

“The cold reality is that while they herald the end of the so-called European migration crisis, they are knowingly turning a blind eye to the humanitarian crisis these policies perpetuate in Libya and at sea. These deaths and suffering are preventable, and as long as it continues, we refuse to sit idle.”

Operating in partnership with SOS MEDITERRANEE, the new ship Ocean Viking will sail to the Central Mediterranean Sea at the end of the month.

Ocean Viking is a Norwegian-owned ship and an offshore supply vessel that was originally conceived for rescues, as an Emergency Response and Rescue Vessel (ERRV) — a stand-by offshore vessel ready for rescuing a large number of oil workers from oil platforms in case of an accident and mass casualties.

Built in 1986, it is 69 meters in length and the beam (width) is 15.5 meters. It is fully equipped to perform search and rescue with four high speed rescue boats, as well as a medical clinic with consultation, triage and recovery room. The ship can take up to 200 survivors on board.

The MSF team who is in charge of the medical and humanitarian needs of the rescued people on board consist of nine people: four medics (one doctor, two nurses, one midwife), a Logistician, one Cultural Mediator, a Humanitarian Affairs Officer, a Field Communications Manager and a Project Coordinator who leads the team.