“Most passengers on the boat actually said their last prayers because they thought we couldn’t make it...”
Recently, I have been in touch with Aisha, one of the persons who were rescued during my mission in October 2016. Such testimonies are very powerful and priceless, as we rarely have the opportunity to follow-up on the next part of the migration journey of those whom we have rescued at sea.
It also allows us to see the mission from the other perspective, of the persons who are at the end of their journey, those who just left inhumane Libya, those who decided to risk their lives hoping for something better.
With the express authorization of the concerned person, I am publishing the testimony that I have recently received:
“Our inflatable boat, nicknamed “lapalapa” left Libyan coast (white house) on the 21st (Friday) October between 9-10pm. We met Sea Watch rescue ship between 2-3am the next morning when our boat was at the verge of capsizing. Most passengers on the boat actually said their last prayers because they thought we couldn’t make it, except few of us who believed that by divine intervention we could be saved. And luckily enough in the midst of the chaos we sighted a faint light far off and I thought within myself that that could be a rescue team and it truly was. That was how we met Sea Watch
As soon as we got to them, everyone in the boat was clamouring and they had to calm us down and assured us that they were there to help us. They gave to everyone of us including the three children in our boat life jackets. Then they started the evacuation to their ship, starting with the three kids followed by the young women and finally the young men. I was the last person to be evacuated. What a great sigh of relief!
I must commend the brave effort of the team, especially the man who first addressed us with a megaphone, they were truly receptive and friendly. That gave us a lot of calm, psychologically. It made us forgot our worries and our downtrodded disposition. Even the young women in the rescue team were really nice too.
As soon as we were onboard the Sea Watch rescue ship, they provided us with isothermal emergency blankets to make us feel warmth. Bottled drinking water was also made available to us. Some of the rescued that were in need of medical attention were attended to. Later in the morning of that day, they gave us some food to eat. If am not mistaken, we were given food twice. Later in the day,the team also carried out another rescue operation on another inflatable boat.
The next day being Sunday around afternoon time we were handed over to a bigger ship which we later knew to be a Spanish ship. Before they handed us over, we were given food again to eat. At the point when the Sea Watch team were handling us over to the Spanish ship, most of us felt emotional. We thought how we wished they (Sea Watch) would be the one to take us to dry land. They were truly amazing! I won’t forget the experience in a hurry. That was the reason why I decided to check them out on the internet and thanked them. That rescue team of 22nd October earliest morning around 2-3am, I say a BIG THANK YOU and to Sea Watch in general for a great humanitarian work.”
Photo credit: Judith Büthe
Intern at Human Rights at Sea,
On secondment to Sea-Watch.