On the night of Thursday August 4, about 360 survivors of a boat lost near the coast of the Italian island of Lampedusa required medical assistance from Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and other agencies. Authorities estimated that this voyage from Libya has resulted in a dozen deaths.
MSF’s medical team immediately set about triaging survivors at the port. More than two dozen people, including women, needed urgent medical care and were transferred to the island clinic.
"Most of patients were dehydrated and hypothermic in an obvious state of shock," said Dr. Mark Testa, an MSF doctor in Lampedusa. “Some patients were suffering from severe abdominal pain and had skin lesions.”
Lost at sea for nearly six days, without food or water on board, rescued people explained how they had no other choice than to watch others die on the boat due to starvation.
They kept repeating that they could not believe they have survived while other perished.
"Each new boat, each tragic refugee death is a stark reminder of the war across the sea," declared Francesca Zuccaro, MSF Head of Mission in Italy. “These people risk their lives to seek refuge on European shore.”
MSF reminds all belligerent parties and neighbouring countries of their responsibility, under international law, to keep their borders open and offer protection to those fleeing Libya.
In Lampedusa, MSF has been working with a team of doctors, nurses and cultural mediators. It helps to make the first medical aid of patients at the pier and then does a medical follow up in the detention centers of the island. Between February and July,
MSF has assisted almost 19,000 people who have fled from Libya. The MSF activities in Lampedusa are funded by private donors and the organization does not receive institutional funds from the Italian government