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Aquarius returns to Central Mediterranean
The rescue boat Aquarius, run in partnership between SOS MEDITERRANEE and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), sets sail today from Marseille after an extended port call. Aquarius is heading back to the Central Mediterranean in order to render assistance to persons in distress at sea.
- Aquarius will continue to rescue persons in distress at sea with full respect to maritime law.
- Aquarius will continue to coordinate with all relevant maritime authorities in respect of international maritime conventions.
- Aquarius cannot comply with instructions to delay rendering assistance to persons in distress at sea if there is no certainty that all other available means and assets have been deployed to assist those in danger and bring them to a place of safety.
- Aquarius will not disembark people rescued at sea in Libya. Libya is not a place of safety for refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants. A place of safety is where their basic needs are met, but also a place where they can seek the protection they might be entitled to and where they are not at risk of further abuses and violations - which Libya cannot be considered for the time being.
With over two years of experience in the Central Mediterranean the Aquarius has assisted more than 29,000 people in more than 200 operations at sea, all coordinated by competent maritime authorities. On numerous occasions, the Aquarius has been mobilised by maritime authorities to accommodate people rescued by other vessels in the Central Mediterranean, either commercial, military or coast guard ships. The ship has three fast rescue boats with emergency floatation tools for mass rescue operations, a specially recruited crew of 35 consisting of a professional marine crew, rescuers and a medical team from MSF, trained to render assistance to persons in distress at sea. The Aquarius has been set-up to provide emergency care to more than 500 people at one time for several days on the high seas.
While in Marseille, the Aquarius was equipped with a new fast speed rescue boat to allow for more efficient rescue operations. With increased likelihood that people rescued at sea will have to spend more days onboard before being able to disembark to a safe place, extra food and medical supplies have been brought onto the ship. A refrigerated shipping container has been installed on deck to store the bodies of people who have drowned. People travelling along the Central Mediterranean route have an increased chance of dying.