Lampedusa: another tragedy in Italian seas after escape from Libyan war

August 5, 2011

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Lampedusa: another tragedy in Italian seas after escape from Libyan war © Mattia Insolera

On Thursday 4 August night, 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 have resulted to 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. Some patients were suffering from severe abdominal pain and had skin lesions, "said Dr. Mark Testa, an MSF doctor in Lampedusa. 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 died 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. These people risk their lives to seek refuge on European shore. " declares Francesca Zuccaro, MSF Head of Mission in Italy.

MSF calls 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 a medical follow up in the detention centers of the island.

Between February and July, MSF has assisted almost 19,000 people who fled from Libya. The MSF's activities in Lampedusa are funded by private donors and the organization does not receive institutional funds from the Government Italian.

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