Mediterranean crisis: MSF ceases operations on Phoenix rescue ship

23 Sep 2015
Related Countries
Southern Europe

Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) was informed that MOAS (Migrant Offshore Aid Station) has decided to stop its current search and rescue operation on the Mediterranean Sea.

As a result, MSF will no longer provide emergency medical assistance and post-rescue care on board the MY Phoenix as it has done since 2 May.

Despite the end of MSF’s work on board the MY Phoenix, MSF remains committed to assisting people in the central Mediterranean with its two MSF operated search and rescue vessels, the Dignity I and Bourbon Argos.

MSF is also assisting migrants and refugees across Europe as well as in countries affected by conflict and humanitarian crises including Syria, Turkey, Ethiopia, Iraq, Afghanistan and Nigeria.

Hover over the image for an interactive guide to the MY Phoenix

Still a need for search and rescue

“There is still the need for sustained, proactive and dedicated search and rescue vessels," said Will Turner, MSF Emergency Coordinator on board the MY Phoenix.

"So far this year more than 2,800 people have drowned whilst seeking a life in Europe. As long as conflicts lead to mass displacements, which in turn overwhelm neighbouring countries, people in need of safe haven will reach out to Europe.  

"In the absence of safe and legal ways for them to arrive, people will continue to risk their lives, and die, at sea,” added Will.

Harrowing time in Libya

In almost five months of operations, the six-person MSF team on board the MY Phoenix has cared for 6,985 people rescued from unseaworthy wooden and rubber boats.

Fleeing places like Eritrea, Somalia, Nigeria, Syria, Gambia and Libya, those rescued have told horrific stories of their countries of origin, their journey and their harrowing time in Libya. 

They have been treated by MSF for a range of conditions ranging from mild dehydration and hypothermia to kidney failure and gunshot wounds.

MSF on the Mediterranean

Since operations began on 2 May, MSF teams on board of the MY Phoenix, Bourbon Argos and Dignity I have assisted some 16,113 people on the Mediterranean Sea.

Find out more about our search and rescue work