The humanitarian organization Sea-Watch rescued 211 migrants from the Mediterranean over the last days, but survivors and crew had to witness some drown as they arrived too late to help.
Five rescues in 24 hours has kept the crew of the private rescue ship Sea-Watch 3 busy over the weekend. Between April 8 and April 10, the crew picked up 211 people in distress from the Mediterranean, the operating charity Sea-Watch said on Twitter.
Many of those on board have undergone "traumatic experiences [which] have left psychological and physical marks," Sea-Watch said. Not least resulting from their experiences at sea itself.
On April 9, for instance, the crew reported that when they arrived on the scene of one boat in distress, "over 50 people were already in the water."
The situation, they reported, was "chaotic and out of control" as their speedboats arrived. A boat from the "so-called Libyan coast guard" was also present, which would have added to the anxiety of the migrants who were "struggling to survive in the water."
Thirteen people, including four minors, were taken aboard during the first rescue on April 8 from a "small wooden boat".
Later that day, the crew completed a second rescue, another 13 people on board another small wooden boat. Three people on this boat were suffering from "sever hypothermia" according to Sea-Watch. "We are relieved we found them before night falls," tweeted the crew. "Our medics are now taking care of them as well as our other guests."
By April 9, the crew undertook a third rescue. This time "another 60 survivors" were brought aboard the Sea-Watch 3. Many of them needed medical attention, reported the crew. Later on Saturday, the crew arrived at the scene of the boat where over 50 people were in the water. "Several people" are reported missing, said the Sea-Watch 3 crew.
From this incident, the crew managed to bring 34 people on board, but survivors told them that initially there had been at least 53 people on the boat. They said they had had to watch their relatives drown. "Our crew also had to witness how for some of the people, any rescue came too late," commented Sea-Watch.
Later on Sunday, the crew picked up 87 migrants from the sea. That brought the total of those on board to 211. Late on Sunday night though, five of the migrants had to be evacuated. This included two heavily pregnant women and one man accompanying his pregnant wife. This leaves 205 rescuees on board the Sea-Watch 3, and the crew is now waiting to be assigned a port for disembarkation. According to the website Marine Traffic, the Sea Watch 3 at the time of writing is currently east of the Sicilian island of Lampedusa.
MSF's Geo Barents docks in Augusta
Meanwhile, another private rescue ship, the Geo Barents, operated by the medical charity Doctors without Borders (MSF), was able to dock in Sicily over the weekend to disembark 113 rescuees. The migrants too reported "nearly drowning on a sinking boat in the central Mediterranean".
The Geo Barents waited for almost two weeks before receiving authorization to dock.
Disembarkation began early on Sunday morning. "The journey may not be over for these people," commented MSF Sea in a tweet, "but they reached safety."