Medecins Sans Frontieres News

07 Dec 2018

The Last Mediterranean Refugee Rescue Ship Ends Operations

The last refugee rescue ship working in the Mediterranean Sea, Aquarius, has ended her operations, French NGO Medecins sans Frontieres said late on Thursday, blaming harassment from Italy and other countries."This is a sombre day," Nelke Mander, Medecins sans Frontieres's general director, said in a statement. "The end of our operations onboard the Aquarius will mean more death in the sea, deaths that are avoidable and without witnesses."The decision to moor the Aquarius is the result of a "constant denigration, smearing and obstruction campaign led" against Medecins sans Frontieres and SOS MEDITERRANEAN by the Italian government and supported by other European countries…

10 Sep 2018

More than 100 Died in Boat Wreck off Libya

More than 100 migrants died in early September when their crowded rubber boats were wrecked off the coast of Libya, the MSF aid agency on Monday quoted survivors as saying.The two vessels had set out from the Libyan coast early on Sept. 1, each carrying scores of people, mostly African, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said in a statement on its website.One boat's engine failed later that day and the other began to deflate, it quoted a survivor as saying. Some survived by clinging to floating wreckage.A survivor told MSF that “European rescuers" had come by aircraft and thrown life rafts, but migrants remained in the water for hours."On our boat, only 55 people survived. Many people died, including families and children.

12 May 2017

Ferry Service or Humanitarian Rescue Boats?

Some EU officials say NGOs inadvertently encourage people smuggling; NGOs say they are only trying to save lives. A "ferry service" that encourages people smugglers or an essential humanitarian rescue service that saves thousands of African migrants making a dangerous sea crossing to Europe? This debate among EU officials about the role of aid groups in the Mediterranean highlights their dilemma between the moral and legal obligation of helping those in need, and growing pressure from voters to keep them away. Escaping wars and poverty, more than 360,000 refugees and migrants made it to European shores across the Mediterranean last year. Most of them arrived on EU rescue vessels.

31 Aug 2016

Calm Seas, Libya's Lawless State Open Door for Migrant Flows

Calmer seas and Libya's lawlessness have opened the way for smugglers to ship thousands of migrants across the Mediterranean this week, in a striking reminder of how far Europe is from ending the migrant crisis. In just four days, Italy's coastguard and European vessels pulled 13,000 migrants from packed wooden boats and rubber dinghies crossing from Libya's coast through the Strait of Sicily, one of the shortest routes from North Africa. Images from rescue vessels showed migrants crammed into fragile boats, some in orange life jackets, others jumping into the water to swim as rescuers shouted for them to stop. Many were women and children, most of them Subsaharan Africans.

31 Jul 2016

USS Carney Rescues 97 Migrants in Mediterranean

A visit, board, search and seizure team from the guided-missile destroyer USS Carney (DDG 64) approaches a migrant vessel in the Mediterranean Sea. (U.S. navy photo by Chief Information Systems Technician Wesley R. Dickey)

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Carney (DDG 64) aided in the rescue of 97 migrants adrift in the Mediterranean Sea, July 29. Carney is forward deployed to Rota, Spain, and is conducting a routine patrol in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations in support of U.S. national security interests in Europe. Carney provided food and water to the migrants aboard the vessel before coordinating with a nearby merchant vessel to take them to safety. It also provided aid for the migrants until the SOS Mediterranee ship MS Aquarius arrived and took the migrants to safety.

22 Jul 2016

Migrants Survivors Tell of Struggle at Sea

The bodies of 21 women and one man were brought ashore to Sicily on Friday as fellow migrants described scenes of panic and violence when water poured into their dinghy. Some survivors had bite marks, testimony to a desperate struggle onboard to escape death. The stricken boat was discovered floating off the coast of Libya on Wednesday, with humanitarian group Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) rescuing about 104 survivors and retrieving the badly disfigured corpses. People on the rubber dinghy said human traffickers in Libya had pushed too many migrants aboard and the floor had split after the boat put to sea, proving a death trap for young women who had been sitting in the central section. "I kept asking for help. Nobody would help. They were climbing on me to stay out of the water.

06 May 2016

Italy Rescues Nearly 1,800 Migrants in Mediterranean

Italian vessels have helped rescue nearly 1,800 migrants from boats trying to reach Italy from north Africa in the last 24 hours, the navy said on Friday, indicating that numbers are rising as the weather warms up. The navy said 1,759 migrants were rescued in 10 operations involving the Italian navy, coastguard and finance police, the European Union's external borders agency Frontex and the medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres. The Italian frigate Grecale was taking the migrants to the Sicilian port of Augusta, where they were expected to arrive on Saturday morning, a navy statement said. It gave no details of their nationalities.

25 Apr 2016

MSF Restarts Mediterranean Migrant Rescues

MSF Search and Rescue boat Dignity I (Photo: MSF)

The medical relief charity Medecins sans Frontieres has relaunched rescue operations in the Mediterranean Sea, accusing European governments of failing to act to save migrants in peril at sea, it said on Monday. MSF halted its maritime rescue programme in January, saying it hoped European Union member states would take up the task of search and rescue of migrants and refugees attempting the crossing from north Africa to Europe. But with rising numbers of people trying to navigate the "deadly stretch of water" between Libya and Italy as the weather warms…

05 Jan 2016

MSF Ends Mediterranean Rescues, Appeals to EU

The medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) has ended its sea rescue operation aimed at reducing the number of migrants and asylum seekers killed while trying to cross the Mediterranean from north Africa to Europe, it said on Tuesday. MSF said its three ships had rescued more than 20,000 people in over 120 search and rescue operations during eight months at sea. The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) has said 3,771 people died in 2015 while trying to reach Europe by sea, making the year the deadliest on record for those seeking sanctuary from conflict and poverty. "Whilst we remain absolutely convinced of the importance of dedicated search and rescue in saving lives…

06 Aug 2015

More Than 200 Feared Dead in Sinking of Migrant Boat

Hopes faded of finding more survivors on Thursday from a shipwreck in which 200 migrants are feared drowned, as rescue ships were called to the aid of more migrant boats in the same area of the Mediterranean. "We are witnessing a genocide caused by European selfishness," said Palermo mayor Leoluca Orlando as the Irish navy ship LE Niamh docked in the port carrying some 370 survivors of Wednesday's disaster and 25 corpses, including three children. Orlando, speaking on Italian television as hearses arrived to take the bodies away, called on European leaders to do more to prevent such disasters and to allow more refugees to re-settle in their countries. After the survivors disembarked, some were escorted back on board to see if they could identify the dead children.

05 Aug 2015

Migrant Boat Capsizes in Mediterranean, Many Feared Dead

A boat packed with up to 700 African migrants capsized in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Libya on Wednesday and many were feared dead, officials and aid agencies said. The humanitarian group Medecins sans Frontieres, whose rescue ship Dignity 1 was in the area, said in a tweet that the boat was believed to have been carrying about 700 people. "The team on the Dignity 1 can confirm that there have tragically been many deaths but does not have figures at this stage," one of its tweets said. In another tweet, the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR said about 600 people were on board, that about 250 had been rescued and 16 bodies recovered so far.

15 Jul 2015

Thousands Rescued At Sea Near Libya

Around 2,700 migrants were rescued from 13 boats near the coast of Libya on Wednesday, Italy's coastguard said. A German navy vessel and a search and rescue ship deployed by medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres participated in the rescues along with the Italian navy and coastguard. A spokeswoman for the Italian coastguard said the rescues had all been carried out in an area around 35 miles (55 km) from the coast of Libya. An estimated 150,000 migrants have reached Europe by sea so far in 2015, most of them in Greece and Italy, the International Organization for Migration said. More than 1,900 migrants have drowned in the Mediterranean, twice the toll during the same period last year, said spokesman Joel Millman.

09 Apr 2015

New Rescue Mission Aims to Curb Migrant Death Toll

A new sea rescue operation is to be launched in May to try to reduce the number of refugees, migrants and asylum seekers killed making the treacherous crossing from Africa to Europe, medical charity Medecins sans Frontieres (MSF) and Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) said on Thursday. Last year was the deadliest on record when more than 3,400 people died trying to cross the Mediterranean, MSF said. This year, the death toll is expected to be even higher, MSF added. There is less help available for boats in distress since the Italian navy's search and rescue operation, Mare Nostrum, closed down in November last year because of a lack of funds.

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