Published: August 13, 2019
"All the rescues we conducted only resulted from a meticulous observation of the context surrounding us," said Nick Romaniuk, SOS MEDITERRANEE search and rescue coordinator on the Ocean Viking. "Maritime authorities did not share any information with us. Only once were we able to establish radio contact with one of three European Union aircraft spotting rubber boat in distress. This shows how states are not putting their duty to save lives first."
An overwhelming majority of people report having experienced arbitrary imprisonment, extortion, being forced to work in slavery-like conditions, or torture during their journey. Of the total of 103 children under the age of 18 now safely onboard the Ocean Viking, only 11 are accompanied by a parent or guardian.
"People, including underage minors, have described being tortured with electric shocks, beaten with guns and sticks, or burned with melted plastic," said Luca Pigozzi, an MSF doctor on the Ocean Viking. "They tell me how they still feel the pain from their wounds and scars sustained during their time in Libya."
MSF and SOS MEDITERRANEE expect European authorities to follow international law and promptly assign a place of safety for the disembarkation of all onboard the Ocean Viking.