Two migrants rescued by a ship watch a boat being rescued in the Mediterranean. - Pablo Garcia / AFP

Since the beginning of July, no more humanitarian boats have intervened in the Mediterranean to come to the aid of migrant boats. To compensate for this absence, Médecins sans Frontières (MSF) will join forces with the German NGO Sea-Watch, to resume rescues in August, the two organizations announced on Thursday.

The two NGOs have formed a team that will set sail aboard a new ship, the Sea-Watch 4, currently moored in Spain, they explained at a press conference. Sea-Watch provides the crew to navigate and MSF coordinates the medical team. In April, MSF put an end to the rescue missions it had been carrying out for four years with the French NGO SOS Méditerranée because of strategic differences.

The immobilized "Ocean Viking"

"We hope to be able to leave Spain around the 10th or in mid-August," Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, in charge of humanitarian issues at MSF, told AFP upstream. The mission is "essential" because "currently, there are no NGO ships at sea" while attempts to cross the Mediterranean are increasing, she recalled.

After several weeks at sea, the “Ocean Viking” chartered by SOS Méditerranée landed in Sicily on July 7 with 180 migrants, before being immobilized by the Italian authorities for “technical reasons”, like the ships of other NGOs. , who denounce a "harassment".

Funded by citizens

A new MSF partner, the German organization Sea-Watch became known in particular when the captain of Sea-Watch 3, Carola Rackete, had forcibly docked in June 2019 on the island of Lampedusa to disembark around 40 migrants, despite the ban issued by the Italian authorities.

The Sea-Watch 4, the NGO's new ambulance boat, was purchased with the support of United 4 Rescue, a citizens' organization founded by the Protestant Church in Germany. "This is the categorical response of civil society to the racist EU policy, which prefers to let people drown rather than reach European shores," said Philipp Hahn, the Sea-Watch chief of mission. 4, in a joint statement with MSF. “Despite their best efforts to stop us, we will not stop the relief efforts. "


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