Left to Drown in the Southern European Border: One year of Geo Barents at sea

07 Jul 2022

In May 2021, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) relaunched search and rescue activities in the Central Mediterranean Sea, chartering our own ship, the Geo Barents, to save lives, provide emergency medical care to rescued people, as well as make survivors’ voices heard from the world’s deadliest sea border. Our vessel is fully equipped for rescue operations, and our activities are carried out by our specifically trained staff including a search and rescue team, a medical team (including mental health), and a humanitarian affairs officer and cultural mediators who ensure the identification of protection needs. 

Between June 2021 and May 2022, the Geo Barents sailed out 11 times and conducted 47 rescue operations to assist people in overcrowded, and unseaworthy boats, some of which were already taking on water. European coastal states provided no instructions or assistance during these rescues. MSF rescued a total of 3,138 people and conducted 6,536 medical consultations for primary healthcare, sexual and reproductive healthcare and mental health support on board. The vast majority of rescued people had fled Libya. Many of them reported having survived violence, torture and/or ill-treatment. 

Our new report, Left to Drown in the Southern European Border: One year of Geo Barents at sea, details testimonies and medical data from our first year of search and rescue activities on the Geo Barents.