Left to Drown

A comics based on true events

19 February 2024

The comics Left to drownis based on the real-life accounts of 13 survivors who were found adrift on a flimsy rubber boat in the Central Mediterranean Sea by the MSF team on board Geo Barents in June 2023.

On the 22nd of June 2023, 14 people onboard an unseaworthy rubber boat sent a distress alert to the activist hotline Alarm Phone. They had left from Libya one day before and were adrift in the Maltese search and rescue region (SRR) after having run out of fuel. Malta and Italy were immediately informed about the distress case. Yet more than 38 hours passed between the first distress alert and the rescue of the boat by the MSF rescue vessel Geo Barents. During this timelapse, a patrol boat from the Armed Forces of Malta came twice on the scene, providing fuel as well as some water and food to the people in distress, while actively refusing to rescue them.

When the MSF ship arrived, people reported that one person had gone overboard and is believed to have died. The 13 survivors rescued by MSF had spent more than three days at sea and were in a serious level of distress and shock after having experienced the deliberate non-assistance of the Maltese authorities and witnessed one of their fellow travellers drowned.

Find more information in the joint statement by MSF, Alarm Phone and Sea Watch about this case.