Bodies of 22 migrants found lying in pool of fuel on dinghy in the Mediterranean

The bodies of 22 migrants have been found on a rubber dinghy adrift near the Libyan coast, just hours after they had set sail for Italy. The 21 women and one man were discovered by a patrol boat from humanitarian group Medecins Sans Frontieres. It found two dinghies sailing close together and managed to pull 209 people, including 50 children, to safety. However, 22 migrants were found dead at the bottom of the first dinghy, lying in a pool of fuel. MSF said the bodies had been on the dinghy “for hours on end”.

It is still not entirely clear what happened, but they died a horrible death. It is tragic. It seems that water and fuel mixed together and the fumes from this might have been enough for them to lose consciousness.

Jens Pagotto of MSF

The bodies were found by the crew of the MV Aquarius, a search and rescue vessel run in partnership between Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and SOS MEDITERRANEE. “When our team approached the first dinghy, they saw dead bodies lying at the bottom of the boat in a pool of fuel,” said Jens Pagotto, MSF head of mission for search and rescue operations. “The survivors had been on the boat with the bodies of these women for hours on end. Many are too traumatized from what they have endured to be able to talk about what had happened. It’s still unclear exactly how they died.”

This loss of life was unnecessary and is the result of an insufficient and inadequate global response to this crisis. Policies that try and keep people away are not working. How many more lives will have to be lost at sea before people in need of assistance and protection are provided with a safer alternative?

Jens Pagotto