As EU heads of state and authorities collect in Brussels to debate migration, the Ocean Viking search and rescue vessel is getting ready to set sail from the French port of Marseille.
The Norwegian-flagged boat is chartered by SOS Méditerranée, a humanitarian organisation that has rescued near 33,000 individuals over the previous few years.
Over that very same interval, EU member states have been unable to muster a coordinated response amid political wrangling over migration and asylum reforms.
“There’s a failure of solidarity amongst European states,” mentioned Sophie Beau, who co-founded SOS Méditerranée in 2015.
“It’s actually an emergency, the summer season is coming, we all know it yearly,” she mentioned on Wednesday (23 June) in a phone name.
Hundreds of individuals have since perished and plenty of extra prone to have drowned with out a hint in a sea that has since develop into the world’s deadliest migratory route.
On Thursday, EU leaders are set to say that saving lives is a precedence in a broader dialogue on migration. These talks are set to kick off late afternoon after which probably roll over into dinner at 8PM.
They may also reinforce their shared goal to spice up relations with nations of origin and transit, together with renewed efforts to seal a brand new migrant-swap cope with Turkey.
“The angle is on the exterior dimension of migration,” a senior EU diplomat informed reporters in Brussels.
German Bundestag president Wolfgang Schäuble drew a extra concise image.
“We are going to solely make progress if we cooperate with regimes,” he had informed the European Parliament earlier this month.
“There are ethical prices, women and gents, that we must assume,” he added.
Amongst these prices is Libya and its infamous detention centres, the place as much as 5,000 migrants and refugees are primarily being held hostage till they’ll pay their approach out.
Latest stories of rapes and sexual abuse of minors have surfaced on the authorities run Shara al-Zawiya detention centre in Tripoli.
One 15 yr previous lady was rushed to the hospital after trying suicide.
Medical doctors with out Borders (MSF) has additionally pulled out of two Tripoli-based detention centres, Mabani and Abu Salim.
The top of MSF Libya, Beatrice Lau, mentioned the persistent ranges of violence in opposition to everybody “has reached a degree that we’re now not capable of settle for.”
The brand new unity authorities can be making life tough for different humanitarian help staff, together with the EU-funded UN Refugee Company.
However for the Ocean Viking and its 30-odd crew of skilled seafarers and rescuers, the mission forward is obvious.
“Nothing has improved these final six years sadly and so our goal at this time is to nonetheless save lives,” mentioned Beau.
Gear and meals is at present being loaded onto the boat because it prepares to sail in the direction of worldwide waters off Libya.
The race is in opposition to time and a bolstered EU skilled and financed Libyan Coast Guard that has intercepted some 14,000 individuals thus far this yr, typically with the assistance of Turkey.
On the shipyard in Marseille, the 70-metre Ocean Viking was dwarfed by the encircling luxurious cruise liners on Wednesday.
In the meantime, on board, a hospital unit, medical workers, and a search and rescue group are hoping for one of the best however getting ready for the worst.
In April, they witnessed the tragic aftermath of a drowning that had killed 130.
These fortunate sufficient to be discovered alive might be introduced onboard and cared for. Ladies and kids might be positioned in a shared facility and separated from males.
Behind one of many shelters for girls is a row of sinks for laundry and metal mirrors.
“It may be fairly emotional,” mentioned Claire Juchat of SOS Méditerranée, motioning to the mirrors.
“Some have not seen themselves in a very long time,” she mentioned, suggesting that they might have been saved captive in Libya.