Sea-Watch has taken note of the incident that took place aboard the Doctors Without Borders / Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) vessel Bourbon Argos on 17.08.2016, when a number of armed men boarded the ship. First and foremost we are happy that our colleagues from MSF are unharmed and the perpetrators were unsuccessful in carrying out their plans. We strictly condemn this attack against our colleagues of MSF. Also because the true victims of this attack are those who have to rely on private rescue organizations as there is no #SafePassage. MSF contacted all organizations in the operating field immediately after the incident.
The full implications of the event are unclear yet, as information about the identity and motives of the attackers is scarce. It did not come as a surprise, a certain risk in the area of operation was known. However it forces us to reconsider our strategies and operating procedures in order to secure the safety of our staff, which is a top priority for us. Therefore our SAR operations are paused for the moment.
We are cooperating with other SAR organizations, the Italian coast guard, and safety experts, as well as representatives from EUNAVFOR MED in order to be able to make a well-founded and responsible safety-assessment. The distress of the boat refugees is just too great to turn our backs now. Therefore, as members of the civil rescue fleet, we hope to renew our commitment to their well-being and safe passage in the days and weeks to come.
Still the biggest risk in the area is taken by thousands of refugees each day who are forced on unseaworthy boats by a European Union refusing any #SafePassage.
Picture: Doctors Without Borders / MSF