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“Sea-Watch 5” saves 118 people in the Mediterranean

The German aid organization Sea-Watch said it rescued a total of 118 people from distress in the Mediterranean on Christmas Eve. The organization said there were also children among those rescued on the “Sea-Watch 5”.

Around six weeks after it was put into service, the civilian rescue ship “Sea-Watch5” rescued people from distress in the Mediterranean for the first time. The ship’s crew took in a total of 118 people in two missions on Christmas Eve, as the Sea-Watch organization announced. Many of those rescued suffered from exhaustion, dehydration and chemical burns from oil-seawater mixtures that formed in the boats.

Among the 118 people, 32 are children and unaccompanied minors, the youngest of whom is three years old. Those rescued would receive initial care on board. According to Sea-Watch, the Italian authorities assigned the ship to the port of Marina di Carrara, around 1,150 kilometers away.

Two missions in international waters

The first rescue operation took place on the evening of December 24th in international waters off Libya: the crew of the “Sea-Watch 5” rescued 54 people from an overcrowded rubber boat. Immediately afterwards, an emergency call reached the rescue ship. On the instructions of the Italian sea rescue control center MRCC Rome, the “Sea-Watch 5” went to this emergency and took another 64 people on board.

“There is no silent night when people have to flee across the sea in search of safety,” explained the operations manager on board the “Seawatch 5”, Anne Dekker. “Safe escape routes” must be created to avoid further tragedies.

2023: 2,678 people died or missing

Libya, along with Tunisia, is the main transit country for migrants who want to come to the EU via the Mediterranean. The United Nations has described the Mediterranean migration route as the deadliest in the world. According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), 2,678 people have died or gone missing on the central Mediterranean route so far this year. The number of unreported cases is probably significantly higher. There is currently no state-organized rescue mission.

The “Sea-Watch 5” set off on its first mission on November 15th from Vinaros on the east coast of Spain. She is the third ship from United4Rescue – an alliance that was largely initiated by the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD). The twelve-year-old ship was christened in November 2022 and then rebuilt. According to “Sea-Watch”, at 58 meters long, it is larger and more efficient than previous ships, and is also in technically perfect condition and ready for use regardless of the season or weather.

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