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Mediterranean search and rescue: Six powerful blog posts about saving lives at sea

Seven months after EU governments forced us to halt search and rescue in the Central Mediterranean, MSF is heading back to sea to save lives on the world's deadliest migration route. As our new ship, Ocean Viking, prepares to launch, read these six powerful stories from the staff who've witnessed this devastating humanitarian crisis first-hand.

1. MEMORIAL

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A sunset on the Mediterranean Sea

We will not forget you and we will not be silent

In December 2018, the Aquarius – MSF’s last remaining search and rescue ship in the Mediterranean – was forced to end operations after political pressure from European governments. For Canadian nurse Courtney, who worked onboard another of our search and rescue vesels, this news resurfaced difficult emotions and inspired her to write a heartbreaking “memorial” for those lives lost at sea.

READ COURTNEY'S STORY >

 

 

2. STARS IN THE SEA

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We sat together for an indefinite amount of time and nothing was said. We just held each other

In this stark and evocative story, Irish doctor Conor Kenny recalls the dramatic and at times heartbreaking tale of one tragic night on board Aquarius – as, against the darkness of injustice and the degradation of human life in Libya, an unrelenting spirit to survive shines through.

READ CONOR'S STORY >

 

 

3. "I'VE NEVER BLOGGED BEFORE, BUT I CAN'T HELP BUT SHARE WHAT I'M SEEING HERE"

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Mark Farrell-Javits

The thin plastic rafts crammed with desperate people don’t stand a chance of getting across

Compelled to speak out about what he’d witnessed, US logistician Mark wrote this powerful blog post during his dramatic time on board Aquarius in 2017. Putting himself in the place of those he’d helped rescue, he reimagines the desperation that pushes people to flee Libya.

READ MARK'S STORY >

 

 

4. THE WOMEN

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They have no choice and this is why they keep coming

“I’d prefer to die in the water than die in Libya” – the words of a Cameroonian woman, rescued from a small rubber boat after nine hours at sea. In this harrowing blog post, Tiziana, a communications officer from Italy, recounts the horrific stories of violence and sexual abuse experienced by countless women in Libya.

READ TIZIANA'S STORY >

 

 

5. "I TRIED TO PICTURE WHAT HE MUST HAVE FELT"

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Even if you believe that you are strong, there comes a moment when you can’t take it anymore

Moments after climbing back on board Aquarius, Tunisian team member Oussama begins checking-in with the people he just helped rescue. It’s now that he meets Jonathan, a 17-year-old boy from Nigeria with large scars around his wrists and an all-too-common story of trauma and abuse that led him to a small boat in the middle of the Mediterranean.

READ OUSSAMA'S STORY >

 

 

6. IF DESPAIR COULD BE A SINGLE IMAGE

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The universal language of smiles is often mixed with tears - these are emotions that are hard to describe

“If despair could be a single image,” writes Antonia, “it would be an overcrowded rubber boat filled with fellow humans on the horizon”. In this deeply personal blog post, the Swiss nurse describes in detail the heavy emotional load that her ship carries after rescuing a group of desperate people, relieved to have found safety at last.

READ ANTONIA'S STORY >