We are leaving Augusta for a mission to rescue the civilian patrol boat Louise Michel, which declared a state of emergency at 3:24 am tonight.
We decided to intervene, anticipating the scheduled start of our Mission 09 by 48 h, because at the moment neither the Maltese nor the Italian authorities are providing the necessary assistance to over 150 people in imminent life danger.
It will be a long journey and we hope that the military units of the Italian Coast Guard or the Maltese ones decide to intervene first.
The Louise Michel already has 165 castaways aboard; more than ten people still at sea would in fact be easily reachable with fast boats: in less than 2 h from Lampedusa and in less than 3 h from Valletta.
Since last night Louise Michel has been assisting a rubber dinghy with 130 people aboard.
The situation is dramatic, 1 person on board died and the crew can’t guarantee assistance to everyone. There are many women and children, a lot of people have serious medical problems due to gasoline burns and many hours at sea.
Rescuing these people is a matter of life and death.
And once again the European civil society, starting with the Mediterranean and the Ionian Sea, will do its part.
We sailed two days ahead of schedule, in order to respond to the S.O.S. call from Louise Michel, the new fast patrol vessel of the European civilian fleet. The Louise Michel first rescued 89 people, then 198 more, and was suffering the consequences of the delays and of the omissions of the competent authorities for the safety of life at sea.
After our sailing announcement, and after the arrival of the Sea-Watch 4 – which was already carrying over 200 people on board, and who had been waiting for days for a safe port to disembark in, the ball got rolling: an Italian Coast Guard patrol boat set sail in the afternoon from Lampedusa, and trans-shipped 49 people, among them children, women and other vulnerable people.
This intervention is still insufficient: the Maltese authorities keep on failing to fulfill their duties, while more than 350 people, currently on board the Louise Michel and the Sea-Watch-4, need to be disembarked as soon as possible, in complete safety, in a European port.
A heavy storm is approaching, there will be severe sea conditions in the upcoming days. We ask the governments of Malta and Italy to carry out their duty: rescue these people, and let them disembark.
The Mare Jonio will certainly play its role, on the side of humanity. That’s why we are back at sea.