A group of migrants rescued from the Mediterranean by Sea-Watch 3 crew on June 2, 2022 | Source: Twitter feed @Seawatch_intl
A group of migrants rescued from the Mediterranean by Sea-Watch 3 crew on June 2, 2022 | Source: Twitter feed @Seawatch_intl

There are 356 migrants on board the Sea-Watch 3 rescue ship in the Mediterranean Sea at the moment after a series of multiple rescues over the weekend. The latest took place on June 6, when 49 migrants were picked up south of Lampedusa.

"After a long search last night, Sea-Watch 3 was able to rescue another 49 people south of Lampedusa this morning," stated a tweet from the crew of Sea-Watch 3 on June 6.

This rescue of 49 people was the latest in a series of six rescues the crew has undertaken in early June.

At the time of writing on June 7, the website Marine Traffic Locator indicated that the Sea-Watch 3 was located just south of the Italian island of Sicily, not far from the port of Pozzallo.

The Sea-Watch 3 is run by the German private rescue organization Sea-Watch International, which has a number of ships operating in the central Mediterranean between Italy and the north African coast.

First rescue: June 2

The ship set sail for its latest mission on May 25. On June 1, the crew tweeted that they were "on scene at the world’s deadliest border –the search and rescue area in the central Mediterranean." At that point, their crew was keeping a "sharp lookout for boats in distress."

On June 2, the crew posted news of their first rescue. 49 people on board an inflatable boat, including women and children. In the pictures, most of those rescued looked like they came originally from sub-Saharan Africa.

Later on June 2, the Sea-Watch crew came across another 25 migrants in "a small overcrowded boat" and brought them on board. In the early hours of June 3, two more rescues were carried out, when 49 more people from one boat and 99 on board another rubber boat were brought on board the Sea-Watch 3.

On June 5, the Sea-Watch crew said they had brought 85 more people on board who were, according to Sea-Watch International, "in danger [of being] pulled back by the so-called Libyan Coast Guard, supported by Malta and Frontex."

Later that day, the organization Alarm Phone, a helpline for migrants in distress at sea, said that 49 people were drifting on board a boat, about 37 nautical miles south of Lampedusa. "The people report to have run out of fuel and several persons [are] severely sick," tweeted Alarm Phone.

'A long search'

The Sea-Watch crew said that after "a long search" they were able to rescue the 49 and bring them on board on June 6. "They are heavily exhausted, and some are in need of urgent care by our medical team," tweeted Sea-Watch.

On the same day, June 6, Alarm Phone also tweeted about another boat said to be carrying 25 migrants on board, including at least four children. This boat was thought to be "drifting in the Maltese Search and Rescue zone," and had been "braving wind and weather" out at sea for several hours, if not days.

Alarm Phone said on Twitter that although it had alerted all the relative SAR authorities in the area, no rescue operation appeared to be under way. However, on June 7, Alarm Phone said that the Italian Coast Guard had picked up the 25 people and taken them to land on the Sicilian island of Lampedusa.

An Italian private rescue organization Mediterranea Saving Humans tweeted that the Italian Coast Guard and the border and tax police Guardia di Finanza had launched an operation eight hours after Alarm Phone’s alert and that all 25 people were now "safe in Lampedusa."

Waiting for a port in which to disembark

According to the German news agency dpa, the Sea-Watch 3 crew have made "four requests" to the authorities for a safe port in which to disembark the migrants on board, but have not yet been assigned a port.

A spokesperson for Sea-Watch told dpa that some of those rescued were "severely dehydrated and exhausted because they had been at sea for a long time and needed medical help." Almost a third of those rescued are unaccompanied minors.

According to figures from the Italian Interior Ministry (last updated on June 6), 20,928 migrants have arrived in Italy by sea since the year began. Five thousand more than the same period in 2021.

According to the same statistical analysis, every day in June has seen more than 100 people arriving, with June 2 recording the most numerous arrivals, 315 in a single day. As of June 6, Bangladeshis account for the largest proportion of arrivals, with 3,717, closely followed by nationals from Egypt, Tunisia and Afghanistan.


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