Aquarius hears a VHF conversation between a sailing boat and the Tunisian Navy. The former informs the Tunisian Navy that a small rubber boat with 5 “migrants” onboard is in positon 37°28.1N 010°55.0E. The sailing boat provided the 5 people with water. Aquarius is approximately 10 nautical miles from the rubber boat’s position. It alters course and proceeds towards the position provided.
Last update 25/08/2018 (All times in UTC+2)
Rescue operation North of Tunisia, 5 survivors
– On Friday, on its way to Marseille, Aquarius overheard a VHF call from a sailing vessel, reporting a boat “with migrants on board” at 10 nautical miles from Aquarius position.
– Aquarius proceeded to the position to assess the situation and stabilise if necessary. It informed the Tunisian and Italian MRCCs about the alert.
– After Aquarius RHIB had stabilised the boat in distress, a Tunisian patrol boat arrived on scene. 2 people jumped into the water without lifejackets and were immediately rescued by the Aquarius RHIB. The 3 other people onboard the rubber boat were rescued a few moments later and transferred safely onboard the Aquarius, with the agreement of the Tunisian patrol boat.
– Aquarius stood-by in international waters, waiting for clarification about the disembarkation of the 5 survivors.
– On Saturday afternoon, a Tunisian Navy vessel approached Aquarius to transfer the 5 survivors. Aquarius requested it to standby while it sought guidance from UNHCR, since it remained concerned that returning the survivors to their home country could be a breach of international refugee law. The Tunisian Navy vessel acknowledged and left the area at the end of the afternoon.
– UNHCR conducted individual skype interviews with the 5 survivors in order to provide guidance to Aquarius.
– Aquarius discussed the feedback of UNHCR with the 5 survivors so that they could make an informed decision about their next steps. All five survivors decided to go back to Tunisia because of the lack of other options.
– Aquarius awaited instructions from MRCC Tunis regarding the next steps of the operation.
– The 5 survivors were transferred onto a Tunisian Navy boat on Saturday 25th of August at 8 AM.
– Aquarius resumed navigating towards Marseille, France.