A picture from Sea-Eye's latest rescue mission in the Central Mediterranean January 25 | Photo: Sea-Eye
A picture from Sea-Eye's latest rescue mission in the Central Mediterranean January 25 | Photo: Sea-Eye

The teams from two private rescue ships, the Alan Kurdi and the Ocean Viking, made several rescues over the weekend in the Mediterranean. In total, the two ships say they have 484 people on board. They are now hoping to find a safe harbor.

On Monday morning Doctors without Borders (MSF) tweeted that it had rescued and taken on board more than 400 migrants in five nighttime operations over the weekend. The organizations MSF and SOS Méditerranée jointly run the private rescue ship Ocean Viking. 

The Ocean Viking now carries more than double the people it actually has capacity for. "Weak with seasickness, exhaustion and exposure, several of the 72 survivors rescued from a wooden boat last night collapsed onto the deck of Ocean Viking when they arrived;" two of the patients, states MSF, "remain under observation." MSF also wrote that "many were suffering from hypothermia and dehydration." Others have been exposed to fuel, which can develop into burns on the skin, a nurse on board the Ocean Viking said.

On Saturday, said MSF, there were a total of "six reported distressed calls." The organization posted this video of one of the rescues, which brought 72 people on board. Alan Kurdi

The German organization Sea-Eye operating the Alan Kurdi ship was also busy this weekend, bringing to safety 78 people in two rescue operations. 

The Alan Kurdi crew was alerted to the first distress case by the Alarmphone hotline. The message from January 25 stated that a migrant boat had set off the previous night, probably from the Libyan coast. Alan Kurdi went in search and found an inflatable boat with 62 people on board, "including seven women and 8 children," says Johanna Pohl, the current head of mission in a video statement.

A few hours later, a second tip from a nearby cargo ship saw them finding a second boat with 16 people. 

In total, Alarmphone was alerted to seven boats in distress in the Central Mediterranean between Friday and Sunday, "carrying more than 500 people fleeing the Libyan warzone, the organization writes on Twitter. Five of these boats were rescued by private rescue organizations and two by Malta, Alarmphone writes.

In a follow-up tweet, Alarmphone adds that they learned about "6 other boats in distress with ~ 283 people. 1 was rescued by #AlanKurdi, 1 by #OceanViking, 1 reached #Lampedusa & 1 was rescued by #Italy. 2 boats were intercepted."

International Sea Law

According to Sea Eye's Johanna Pohl, Malta has refused their request for a safe port and the Alan Kurdi is on its way to Italy. The Sea-Eye press release acknowledges that finding a safe harbor "has improved in the last few weeks" but it is still not meeting the human rights demanded by the International Law of the Sea concerning rescues at sea." Sea-Eye underlines once again that it is "a duty contained in the International Law of the Sea charter that a safe port be offered as soon as possible." 

Julian Pahlke, Sea-Eye's spokesperson calls once again for all EU states to "remain in solidarity with Italy. The Mediterranean should not become a space devoid of protection," he said.

The crew on board the Alan Kurdi is largely made up of volunteers from the German rescue organization Sea-Eye and the Spanish charity Proem Aid. The Alan Kurdi now sails under a German flag. Sea-Eye states that the ship has already saved the lives of 538 people to date. 


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