While the Sea-Watch 2 is back at the harbour in Malta for the winter, I am now on land and have been granted a resting period. Indeed, the accumulated events during the previous month at sea were physically and emotionally exhausting, but one realizes the level of tiredness only when returned to reality.
Reality is a curious situation when the past month has been spent at sea, a different world, surrounded by human misery that has become my reality for a while.
The density of rescue operations has reached its highest point since the beginning of SAR operations in the Mediterranean. November is the last period of the year when it is still possible to cross the Mediterranean without a nearly 100% risk of dying at sea. Therefore, many still attempt the crossing, leaving everything behind, hoping for a better life, or dying in the worst-case scenario. The smugglers overpack the rubber or wooden boats even more at the moment, making the journeys even more perilous.
SAR NGOs are unprepared for such big amount of rescue operations. They reach their capacity limits much faster, and transfer ships reach the rescue zones slower now, overwhelming the MRCC Rome, and probably creating panic and growing frustration from their office in Rome were they desperately try to coordinate rescue operations.
The number of deaths at sea has also spectacularly increased, probably reaching its highest number in two years. I am uncertain of the exact number since we will never be aware of the exact number of deaths, since we are unable to spot all migrant boats, or to determine how many have left the shore. Many will die unfound, forgotten.
Unfortunately, most NGOs are now completing their last missions. After, for most, it is impossible to organise more because of the bad weather conditions, or a lack of funding in some cases. This leaves a bitter feeling, thinking of the boats that might still be leaving the Libyan shore.
For Sea-Watch, the winter period is used to work on the Sea-Watch 1 and 2 ships. The missions will restart around March/April, but until then there are many aspects to improve and work on in order to successfully continue the fight for a #SafePassage .
In the meantime, the blog will also continue to be updated with my thoughts and opinions about recent events and follow-ups on my internship in general that I will pursue at Sea-Watch’s headquarters.
Intern at Human Rights at Sea,
On secondment to Sea-Watch.
Photo credit: Judith Büthe