from AHMED ZAYED in Tripoli, Libya
TRIPOLI, (CAJ News) – MORE than 400 refugees and migrants rescued at sea are stranded after authorities denied a request to offer the individuals aboard a rescue vessel a port of safety.
They are aboard the Geo Barents search and rescue ship after they were saved from the Central Mediterranean Sea.
The 439 survivors rescued after six separate operations in three days ending January 21, had fled Libya in search of safety.
After two requests for a place of safety to the Maltese authorities were ignored and then denied, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has called on the Italian authorities for a safe port for disembarkation.
MSF teams monitoring the sea responded to multiple capsized and shipwrecked boats with people in distress and managed to bring all people safely aboard.
Among the survivors on board the Geo Barents, many come from Bangladesh, Egypt, Eritrea, Pakistan and Sudan.
The majority are men and 112 are minors most of whom are unaccompanied.
There are also nine women and three babies – the youngest aged under a year old.
Hager Saadallah, MSF psychologist on board the Geo Barents, said many people were experiencing psychological distress.
Their mental health is reportedly deteriorating after several days on the ship.
Saadallah said the most common symptoms were psychosomatic pain, anxious overthinking, sleeping issues, traumatic flashbacks and general distress.
He said the living conditions on board could potentially lead to a further deterioration of these symptoms.
Anxiety and tensions are rising due to the uncertainty about their future.
“The work of processing their trauma can only start once survivors are in a safe and secure environment on land,” Saadallah said.
– CAJ News