First rescue mission in 2023 on the line due to slump in donations
On 23.12.2022, the SEA-EYE 4 arrived at the port of Livorno with 108 rescued people on board. Three people with severe fuel burns, which they had contracted on their boat due to gasoline spills, had to be taken directly from the ship to a hospital. At noon, all people were finally able to leave the rescue ship.
During the rescue mission, the crew was able to find two distress cases and rescue all people. While the cooperation with other NGOs like Mission Lifeline as well as with merchant vessels like the MTM SOUTHPORT worked well, there was no support from the responsible rescue coordination centers. On the contrary, if it had been up to the Italian and Maltese authorities, the SEA-EYE 4 would have docked in Livorno with significantly fewer rescued people. Thus, the Maltese rescue coordination center actively tried to prevent the second rescue by requesting merchant ships to ignore the distress case under threat of consequences.
For the first time, the port allocation by Italian authorities was done proactively and while a rescue operation was still underway.
“There are many indications that it is a new strategy of the Italian authorities to assign ports as quickly as possible and as far away as possible. This is an attempt to keep rescue ships out of the area of operation as quickly and for as long as possible. The strategy is changing, but the goal of the authorities remains the same: to make it more difficult to rescue people in order to reduce the number of arrivals in Europe,” said Gorden Isler, chairman of Sea-Eye e.V.
“In the past few days, the medical team on board provided initial treatment to all 108 people rescued from distress at sea. 20 refugees suffered from moderate to severe burns from spilled gasoline. Three particularly severe cases had to be taken directly from the ship to hospital. I am glad that all those rescued are now on land and safe,” says Nour Hanna, mission doctor from German Doctors e.V., summing up the situation.
“In January, the SEA-EYE 4 is actually supposed to set off directly on its next mission. Unfortunately, funding is on the line due to a 23 percent drop in donations compared to the same period last year. We are therefore very concerned about being able to carry out fewer missions in the coming year,” Isler said.