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SOS Méditerranée is a European, maritime-humanitarian organisation for the rescue of life at sea, currently operating in the Mediterranean sea in international waters north of Libya. The organization charteres the Aquarius in order to rescue people fleeing by sea from Libya and who risk drowning.  The group was founded in June 2015 by German former captain Klaus Vogel and Frenchwoman Sophie Beau after the Italian navy ended the rescue operation Mare Nostrum in 2014. Its headquarters are based in Marseille, France.
The organization is best known for its actions during the European migrant crisis of rescuing migrants from sinking vessels in international waters north of Libya and providing the survivors with medical care and shelter, before being disembarked in a place of safety mostly in European ports in Italy and Malta. Since the start of the rescue operation in 2015, the Aquarius has saved more than 29000 lives. They are considered a "taxi service for migrants" by Italian Minister of the Interior, deputy prime minister and leader of the far right anti-migration party La Lega Matteo Salvini and have been denied entry to Italy and Malta. They work in partnership with Doctors Without Borders. SOS Méditerranée clashed with Libyan coastguards during 2017 but continues to operate in the Libyan search and rescue region in international waters north of Libya.
SOS Méditerranée works as a European association with teams in Germany, France, Italy and Switzerland in a European network, jointly financing and operating the rescue ship Aquarius, which has been in continuous operation since February 2016 in international waters between Italy and Libya.
The medical care has been provided by Doctors without Borders since May 2016.
It is a robust and seaworthy ship that offers wide spaces below deck, making it very suitable for year-round use as a rescue ship in the Mediterranean. Until 2009 the Aquarius was operated as a fishery protection vessel.
- Size: Length 77 m/Width 11.8 m/Draught 5.6 m
- Crew: Nautical and Technical Crew of 10 + Search and Rescue and Medical Crew
- Rescue capacity: 200 – 550 people
- Costs per day: 11.000 €
SOS MEDITERRANEE is a non-profit association and is financed exclusively through private donations.
Its partner Doctors Without Borders (MSF) contributes to the monthly costs for the Aquarius and staffs the medical team on board.
- Nick Squires, "Rescue boat carrying 600 migrants stranded in Mediterranean in stand-off between Italy and Malta", The Telegraph (11 June 2018). Retrieved 13 June 2018.
- "Spain urged to take in migrants abandoned by Malta and Italy", The Local (11 June 2018). Retrieved 13 June 2018.
- John Henley & Angela Giuffrida, "Three NGOs halt Mediterranean migrant rescues after Libyan hostility", The Guardian (14.8.2017).