Skip to content
Tensions on the humanitarian ship Ocean Viking: "We worry for human lives"

Simply as a lot as this SOS, despatched Friday from worldwide waters, the fears hanging over the security of the greater than 200 occupants of the Ocean Viking, within the midst of an epidemic, are unprecedented. For the primary time because the begin of humanitarian actions, 4 and a half years in the past, SOS Méditerranée, the NGO which chartered this ship, declared it in a state of emergency.

On board, a part of the 180 migrants, rescued at sea between June 25 and 30, are within the grip of such intense psychological misery, after attempting weeks spent most frequently in Libya, that some have tried suicide, even have threatened the crew, stories this Saturday Laurence Bondard, spokesperson for SOS Mediterranean.

"This morning, after a comparatively calm night time, sure tensions have once more risen," depicts this activist current on the boat, who relates that 44 passengers crystallize the issues of the lifeguards.

Six suicide makes an attempt in 24 hours

“This can be very annoying, there are survivors who’re in acute psychological misery. Some categorical suicidal intentions. They expressed a threat of harming themselves and probably others. Some additionally threatened members of the crew, "warns Laurence Bondard, who says he doesn’t really feel" fully secure ".

She sadly lists: "In 24 hours, there have been six suicide makes an attempt, two individuals jumped into the water and had been thankfully capable of be recovered, three others could possibly be intercepted simply in time, one other tried to kill themselves … ”. The latter tried to hold himself on the deck of the boat.

In 24 hours, six migrants tried suicide on the boat / Flavio Gasperini / SOS Méditerranée

Sophie Beau, director basic of the NGO SOS Mediterranean, describes "a bunch of round forty individuals, with out a chief, who’re in a delusional state". "They’re uncontrolled and pose a hazard to themselves, to their very own integrity and to the crew," she worries. Some refuse to take medicine. So long as they haven’t landed, they are going to signify a hazard for the opposite survivors. Just one migrant, who suffered from a excessive fever, was capable of be evacuated earlier this week.

For the second, the Ocean Viking, which is 30 km from the Italian coast, off Sicily and within the midst of serious waves, stays at an deadlock: Italy and Malta, the 2 closest nations, objected to his seven requests for accosting. The opposite requested nations, together with France, stay silent. So Friday, SOS Mediterranean requested that its 44 passengers in psychological misery be disembarked as an emergency. However there once more, it was a refusal that was addressed to them. Nevertheless, Italy has despatched a physician and a mediator to the ship.

A scenario additionally denounced by the NGO Amnesty Worldwide, which demanded this Saturday morning that France intervene "with the Italian and Maltese authorities so that individuals can disembark at once in a secure port" and undertakes "to accommodate a sure variety of these individuals. "

"They may see the European coasts so shut …"

"There was no tipping level, the scenario dragged on," makes an attempt to investigate Sophie Beau, of SOS Mediterranean, to elucidate the looks of tensions. “The primary individuals rescued at sea had been on June 25, so some have been on the boat for 9 days and have drifted for 4 days earlier than that. It is vitally lengthy for people who find themselves already in catastrophic psychological and psychological struggling. Nearly all of these migrants – 25 of whom are minors, typically unaccompanied, with a 12-year-old youngest son – have fled Libya and its chaos, the place murders, rapes and rapes of migrants are frequent. They’re primarily Bangladeshis, Pakistanis, Tunisians and Egyptians, particulars the NGO, which additionally mentions the presence of two ladies, one in all whom is 5 months pregnant.

“They’re getting back from Libya and the camps. They’ve skilled unimaginable violence, ”provides Sophie Beau, who criticizes a“ complete cynicism of the authorities ”. "They had been capable of see the European coasts so carefully … and we should clarify to them that we can not dock, that these are political choices. Inevitably, there isn’t any rationality that is sufficient to calm their anxieties, their exasperation and their incomprehension. So, for some, the nervousness of the primary days elevated and became anger, to the purpose of attempting every thing for every thing. "Some individuals jumped and informed us that they needed to swim to the coast, whereas they’re 30 km away, two began a starvation strike," stated the director of SOS Mediterranean, who stated she feared "for human lives on board "and proclaims its" worry that it’s going to degenerate ".

"They sleep on the bottom, it's highly regarded …"

The coronavirus pandemic has not helped the scenario. Italy and Malta have determined to keep up the ban, which was imposed in April, on welcoming migrants to their ports. On board, sporting a masks is obligatory, regardless of the dizzying warmth and the sanitary tools worn by lifeguards "makes human contacts extra difficult," notes Sophie Beau. The 9 members of the flight crew shouldn’t come into contact with the migrants, so as to keep away from any attainable contamination.

Tensions on the humanitarian ship Ocean Viking: "We worry for human lives"
The dwelling situations on this boat are spartan. Flavio Gasperini / SOS Mediterranean

Pending authorization to dock in one of many Mediterranean ports, the following few days look tense. "A survivor informed me once I wakened this morning We don't really feel secure. Since two individuals jumped out of the boat, the very first thing they give thought to is: What’s going to occur now? This will increase nervousness amongst survivors, and their recollections of what might have occurred earlier than, of their nation at struggle, in Libya, or at sea, resurface, "tells us Laurence Bondard, from the Ocean Viking.

To reassure passengers, the crew has strengthened its presence on deck, "night time and day" and stays "very vigilant to forestall a drama from taking place," she says. However how lengthy can such a scenario final? "A ship is just not a spot the place you’ll be able to keep for a very long time," protested the spokeswoman. Even much less within the situations through which they’re. They sleep on the bottom, on the aft deck, it's highly regarded … ”

She insists, about "these individuals who have seen demise very carefully": "They can not relaxation beneath these situations, they completely must disembark, be taken care of. "