Please be informed that the Aquarius 2 conducted a SAR event within the Libyan SRR two days ago on the 20th of September. Initially, after identifying a boat in distress we tried to contact the JRCC Libya via phone, VHF and email without success. The first and only RCC that responded prior and during the rescue was the Italian MRCC. They informed us that they would refuse coordination and would contact the Libyan authorities leaving the Aquarius 2 without help. Later and shortly after the call with the Italian maritime authorities, the Aquarius 2 received an email from the Libyan Navy Coast Guard requesting that we rendezvous bordering Libyan territorial waters with a patrol boat to disembark the 11 survivors on-board. This would clearly have meant the return of these people to Libya. Considering the determinations of multiple international bodies Libya cannot be considered as a Place of Safety (POS). In response to this information, the Libyan Navy Coast Guard kindly suggested that we contact other MRCCs.
In the Interim, Malta has informed us “that it is neither the appropriate nor the competent authority to provide [the survivors on the Aquarius] with a place of safety.” The last communication with the IMRCC stated that: “Italian authorities will not provide POS in Italy because the SAR case was not coordinated by the Italian MRCC.” As you know in your expertise, from the IMO annex 34 adopted in 2004 other RCCs are to be contacted for assistance if difficulties arise. Although it is the responsibility of an RCC to either ensure the prompt provision of a POS or involve other authorities, we are concerned that you may not have been contacted. In light of this concern, we felt it advisable to share these troubling events with you and seek guidance in your roles as competent RCCs.
See attached the full situation report and details regarding the rescue. Further information can also be gathered at onboard-aquarius.org.
The situation on board is stable for the time being and our medical team (2 doctors, 2 nurses and 1 midwife) continue to treat the 11 survivors. While waiting for a POS we remain in International waters and will continue to respond if any maritime distress situation occurs in full respect of international maritime law.
Please acknowledge receipt of this email at your earliest convenience.