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MSF Calls for Urgent Global Response to Refugee Deaths in the Med

© REUTERS / Giorgos MoutafisSyrian refugee girl Housaida rests inside the Spanish rescue vessel Astral after being rescued by the Spanish NGO Proactiva off the Libyan coast in the Mediterranean Sea August 18, 2016.
Syrian refugee girl Housaida rests inside the Spanish rescue vessel Astral after being rescued by the Spanish NGO Proactiva off the Libyan coast in the Mediterranean Sea August 18, 2016. - Sputnik International
On Sunday 21st August 2016 Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) - or Doctors Without Borders - rescued a total of 551 people from two boats, one of which was wooden and the other, rubber. Jacob Goldberg, from MSF was involved in Sunday's rescue.

Mr. Goldberg has been on board the MSF rescue boat for three months and has seen some shocking things. He told Sputnik about the recent rescue and the countless others he has been on.  

"Every rescue is very-very different, there is no routine and never should become a routine," Mr. Goldberg said.

"The rescue that we did the other day was of a wooden boat and a rubber boat. What we know of wooden boats is that they have a bigger capacity than rubber boats and they also have the risk of capsizing.

"The wooden boat that we rescued had 400 people — roughly — on board and the rubber boat had 120. So, in total we rescued 551 people," Mr. Goldberg added.

Mr. Goldberg and the team from MSF rescued the boat simultaneously, with water coming into the double-level wooden boat, it created a sense of emergency as they didn't know the state of the people on the lower level.

"There was a very important urge to do the rescue, that we did it safely and as quickly as possible.

"We also know is that there was a very high number of children on this wooden boat, as well as pregnant women. It is harrowing but there is professionalism involved," Mr. Goldberg told Sputnik.

MSF generally see a high number of unaccompanied minors (anyone under the age of 18) traveling without the safety net of an adult.

"Yes, we do see a high number of unaccompanied minors, I hate seeing it," Mr. Goldberg said.

"I recently saw a 13 year-old-boy and he was terrified. this young boy represents all of the young minors traveling alone. He lost his parents in Libya and he is risking his life in these incredibly dangerous conditions."

But it's not just unaccompanied minors that are a cause for concern. The MSF team, on a daily basis witness numbers of children traveling alone who are under the age of five, which they are trying to raise awareness of.

But still there appears to be an air of silence and that is where social media comes in helpful, as it gives them the opportunity to shine the spotlight on what is going on.

"There is a certain fatigue that people feel and the best thing we [MSF] can do is to keep reminding people. What's really important is to keep bringing this issue back to the public's attention. We have seen a higher number of deaths this year vs last year, so what that shows me is that the situation is not under control. If it takes this harrowing picture to bring a reaction then that's what it takes. We need some reaction to provide a solution," Mr. Goldberg told Sputnik.

However MSF have had their fair share of criticism, with some people saying they are in fact smuggling people by rescuing the refugees from their boats and bringing them to the EU.

"I completely disagree with this and we are here because there are people dying in the sea in their thousands and we need to look at this because as people are fleeing from conflict, they haven't got any solution to safety and the condition that people are living in is bad. Just the other day we went to a rescue, before we arrived, 22 people were dead in a boat. We need to come up with a global solution to this problem and give people safe passage to flee for their safety," Mr. Goldberg told Sputnik.

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