More than 400 migrants are accommodated on the humanitarian ships Open Arms and Ocean Viking while a third rescue, made by the latter boat, took place near Libya, Sunday, August 11. However, no solution is in sight for their reception.
Although the optimum reception capacity - about 200 passengers - is exceeded for tired people, the coordinator of search and rescue operations of the NGO SOS Mediterranean, Nicholas Romaniuk, decided to continue to patrol an area located in 60 nautical miles (about 110 km) from Tripoli to rescue other boats.
Third rescue in three days
"We are the only ones in the area," he told an AFP journalist aboard the Ocean Viking. "The Libyan coastguards do not respond," he adds, citing favorable weather conditions that can prompt departure.
Sunday, the Ocean Viking, humanitarian organizations SOS Mediterranean and Doctors Without Borders (MSF), conducted its third rescue in three days.
"We have a watch 24 hours a day and two radars covering the area," he explains. "This morning, it was the presence of a low-level reconnaissance aircraft that alerted us and drove more to North."
On board a blue rubber boat six to seven meters long were packed 81 young men who applauded the rescuing sailors as they approached, taking selfies with their phones, unaware of the dangers involved.
Some carried black rubber buoys around the neck, which were ineffective by the rescuers.
Sudanese, for the vast majority of them, aged three-quarters of 18 to 34 years, said they left the Libyan coast Saturday night.
"These boats are hand-crafted by smugglers who assemble some rubber parts together," says Nicholas. "No one would ever get the slightest certification for carrying passengers."
Two-thirds of the survivors of the Ocean Viking are Sudanese, although the first boat rescued Friday also carried Senegalese and Ivorians, left to work in Libya and caught up in the war.
Injuries of torture
According to MSF doctor Luca, "rescued people suffer from dehydration and a lot of scabies", but he also "noted many injuries inherited from torture".
In a press conference in Lampedusa alongside the leaders of the NGO Proactiva Open Arms on Saturday, the American actor Richard Gere spoke about these abuses. This humanitarian ship is currently treading water near this island in southern Italy, with 160 migrants on board, 121 of which are "breaking point", after 10 days at sea.
"Most people talk about it as migrants, but for me they are refugees on the run, extraordinary people," said the Hollywood star. "They are so strong, they have experienced horrors, hell, torture, rape, imprisonment," he said. We must stop "dehumanization" and "stop demonizing human beings".
On Sunday, the founder of the Open Arms, Oscar Camps, launched a new call for European solidarity. "Tenth day aboard, on a hot Sunday of August, we resist, we have 160 reasons to do it, 160 human beings who have the right to land in a safe harbor, shame on you Europe".
The Open Arms also requested the evacuation of three patients, tuberculosis, pneumonia and cancer.
"It is better to have fines than to be accomplices," Oscar Camps added, referring to the rules in force in Spain and Italy where the ship faces confiscation and fines of around one million euros.
Meanwhile, some thirty migrants landed directly on the Italian coast on Sunday. Among them, 16 Iranians and Iraqis intercepted on a sailboat arrived in Puglia (south), and 13 North Africans on a fishing boat that docked on the Sicilian island of Marettimo.