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On board the Aquarius

The migratory line Libya – Italy is the most lethal one in the world, 3% of deaths in 2016. Over than 180.000 refugees have reached the Italian coasts, leaving behind them around 4500 persons left who lost their life trying to get to it.

Since its commissioning in February 2016 by SOS Méditerranée, the Aquarius saved 23.687 lives. The ship is pacing up and down the Libyan coasts from Italy. They do not delay to starts shifts on guard watching any craft that might need to be rescued. SOS Méditerranée has answered to the urgent need to undertake rescue operations of men, women and children leaving Libya to Europe hoping a better life. To that end, the association has gathered private donators financing and public subsidies to rent the boat and to cover daily maintenance and rescue fees. On the ship, SOS Méditerranée and Médecins Sans Frontières teams are ready to help refugees. Italians coast guards and military crews are working with them and often drive dinghies from Libya to the Aquarius. Their action is progressing in three different times. First of all, they save lives. Then, they support and protect the survivors. Finally, they try to make people and governments aware and conscious of the Mediterranean situation.
Ships like Aquarius are necessary for thousand people ‘s survival. These are running away Libya because life conditions are appalling. They often already left their original country, Somalia, Morocco, Egypt, Guinea… to finally only find horror and violence, to endure daily extortions and to remain scared in front of explosions. On the water, they are just passing by. Some are relieved thinking they just reached the end of their troubles, thinking the worst is behind them, and yet the crossing is extremely dangerous. On small inflatable dinghies or other makeshift craft, an accident can suddenly happen. Stuck one another during many hours, men are frequently fighting and sometimes can fall overboard and drown. During winter, the water is freezing and the sea gets more easily raging. Wrecks, hypothermia are common. Malnutrition, dehydration and diseases are coming with the refugees to the Aquarius. They prefer to take an ultimate risk than to remain between life and death in Libya.

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