July 24, 2022
After exhausting months in the shipyard, the RISE ABOVE is transferred from Spain to Sicily at the end of June in order to set sail from Licata to the Maltese search and rescue area on July 16 at 11:30 am. The mission is preceded by extensive training for the mission crew, which is mandatory for each of our missions.
About 20 hours after the start of our mission, the crew of the Rise Above already encounters a very small wooden boat that is heavily overcrowded with 30 people, and another one joins them later. Among the refugees are several women (one of them pregnant) and children. The crew reacts immediately, distributes life jackets to all boat passengers and informs the responsible authorities. The Rise Above stays with the secured boats until late afternoon, when all the people are taken over by the Italian coast guard and brought ashore.
In the hope that all the people taken over by the Italian authorities are doing well, we continue our mission; because that there are still countless people in this huge search area who need our help since they have to risk their lives to escape poverty, terror, torture or war, we unfortunately know only too well – even if there has long been hardly any news about it from the TV and radio stations of our own safe Western world of prosperity.
South of Lampedusa we find several small, empty wooden boats, which have probably already been salvaged by the Italian coast guard. Due to their condition, we assume that they started their journey in Tunisia.
The Rise Above is now free again for a next rescue mission, which becomes necessary two days later: On 7/19 we found a wooden boat overcrowded with 63 people, around 6 pm. Because of the catastrophic situation on board of the unmaneuverable boat and the in some cases very bad mental and physical condition of the people, their immediate accommodation on board of the Rise Above is absolutely necessary. Until late in the evening, we succeed in bringing all the people safely on board and taking care of them. Among our guests are desperate and exhausted men, women and some minors from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Morocco, Syria, Egypt, Ethiopia and Somalia.
One of our minor guests is unwell during the first night on board, coughing up blood. The young patient and an apparently severely traumatized woman with diabetes need around-the-clock medical care in our onboard hospital. The next day, our board physician makes the decision to evacuate the two. The Italian coast guard, which was called because of the medical emergency, takes both patients into its care on July 21.
While the RiseAbove is in search of a safe harbor in the direction of Sicily with the more than 60 rescued persons remaining on board, the pump of the water treatment system breaks. A disaster, because the water on board is running low. For the hygienic situation on board a small ship with so many people, this is worrying. We hope that the supply of drinking water bottles will be enough until we are allowed to enter a port.
On 22.7. in the evening finally the relieving news: We have found a Port of Safety – Augusta!!!
We reach the coast near Augusta at 4:00 a.m. and are allowed to enter the harbor around 6:00 a.m.. In the early afternoon, all people can disembark. We are more than happy. Another mission of the Rise Above is successfully completed. We will return to Licata and prepare our ship for the next mission, which will begin soon.