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Rescue at sea on the Mediterranean
What is "everyday life" like on the ship?
Each day begins with a morning meeting where the day's tasks are shared out. When we are in the search and rescue zone, we also discuss the weather forecast - it has now been empirically confirmed that the weather situation influences attempts to escape from the Libyan coast, so we keep a close eye on the weather. Even if we have no rescues, there is a lot to do on a ship. The days are filled with exercises for rescue and maintenance work on the ship.
What is the mood like on the ship - before, during and after the rescue operations?
Working on board is an emotional roller coaster. When we receive an emergency call or when it says on the radio, “All teams, prepare for rescue”, everyone is on alert and highly concentrated in one fell swoop. But above all, we share very special moments with the people we save. Immediately after a rescue, the atmosphere on board is usually characterized by great joy and relief. The rescued escaped both the spiral of violence in Libya and death at sea and are very grateful. But when we then have to wait several days or sometimes weeks for a safe haven, it not only becomes physically demanding for some of them - they also have time to reflect on what happened to them on their flight, especially in Libya, and worry about them your future. During these days of uncertainty, we do our best to maintain the mood and create a distraction. When we finally get the news that the rescued can go ashore in a safe harbor, the joy is indescribable.
In times of the global corona pandemic, is it even possible to drive rescue missions?
Since the beginning of the global outbreak of COVID-19, sea rescue in the central Mediterranean has become increasingly difficult: Several EU states have declared their ports to be "unsafe" and closed borders to people seeking protection. It's a dilemma: people continue to flee unspeakable violence in Libya and risk drowning in the central Mediterranean. At the same time, there is a great risk that we will not be able to take the rescued people to a safe place and that we will not be able to guarantee the safety of the survivors and the crew on board. Against this background, the Ocean Viking will remain in the port of Marseille for the time being, while the SOS MEDITERRANEE teams are working towards resuming operations as soon as possible.
What are the hurdles in times of Corona and how is the SOS going MEDITERRANEAN-Crew to deal with it?
In addition to the enormous logistical hurdles that the COVID-19 pandemic is confronting the entire shipping sector, we are, as described, facing major political hurdles. We are already filling a void that states are leaving behind in sea rescue operations in the Mediterranean. The framework conditions to carry out this work safely and responsibly are no longer given due to the current exceptional situation.
When we have rescued people on board, everyday life looks very different. Then we will do everything we can to make the time on board as comfortable as possible for the survivors. We spend a lot of time on deck, serving food, keeping the sanitary facilities clean and trying to organize the time together. Above all, we talk to people, get to know each other and learn their stories. Especially when we have to wait a long time for a safe harbor, the crew and the rescued move closer together - then we are literally all in the same boat.
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