First modification: 07/05/2021 – 18:40
In its last operation from Sunday to Monday, the boat of the European NGO SOS Méditerranée added the complex rescue of 369 migrants who were off the coast of Libya. After six missions started last Thursday, the ship has 572 people on board, rescued on the brink of exhaustion.
In at least six operations since Thursday, the humanitarian ship Ocean Viking has rescued hundreds of people in a Mediterranean Sea forgotten by Europe, including nine women, a baby, two children and 110 unaccompanied minors from Egypt, Bangladesh, Libya. and Eritrea, among other countries.
The rescue, according to the organization’s spokesman Francesco Creazzo, has been that of a “large wooden boat” with “problems in the Libyan search and rescue region”, which has been complex and lasted more than five hours.
Cette nuit, dans la zone de recherche & sauvetage libyenne, @SOSMedIntl a secouru joins a large boat in bois qui menaçait de chavirer à tout moment.
369 people ont été evacuated in security after 5 hours of operation.
– SOS MEDITERRANEE France (@SOSMedFrance) July 5, 2021
“The last rescue turned out well, the people are safe in the Ocean Viking, but (all) are physically and psychologically very affected, and many even had to be evacuated on a stretcher because they could not walk,” he developed for the news agency EFE the NGO spokesperson.
“(Although it was) a very complicated operation, it was a wooden ship overloaded with human beings and it had to be stabilized with special devices before the survivors could be transferred,” he said.
More than 30,000 lives saved since 2016, thanks to these missions
The Ocean Viking, one of the few civil rescue ships that is still active in the central Mediterranean, a recurrent migration area, also helped 71 other migrants crammed into a wooden boat on Sunday, fleeing Libya without food or water. and that they were exhausted at the moment of salvation.
Until this July 4, the rescue figures totaled, according to the European NGO, at least 132 people in total since operations began on Thursday, and now the ship has about 572 people on board.
After several weeks in dry dock in Naples (southern Italy) for repairs, the latest Ocean Viking rescue reported on May 1 allowed another 236 people to be rescued from the dangerous crossing of the Mediterranean.
According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), since the beginning of 2021 it is estimated that 866 immigrants and refugees have lost their lives trying to cross the sea and reach Europe with the desire for decent living conditions.
For its part, AFP points out that SOS Méditerranée – the ship has been chartered since 2019 by the association – would have helped more than 30,000 people since February 2016, first with the Aquarius boat and later with the Ocean Viking.
This does not mean that the humanitarian maritime vessel is threatened with administrative inspection and blockade by the Italian authorities. A fear that has existed since 2020, when the nation changed the interpretation of international maritime law.
“We were blocked for five months last year, although we complied with the requests of the Coast Guard and the blockade was revoked, but there is always the fear that it could happen again because it seems that inspections are being used to hinder the activity of rescue at sea, “the SOS Méditerranée spokesman explained to EFE.
The Italian authorities keep five other humanitarian vessels blocked under the justification of alleged irregularities: the Sea Eye 4, the Alan Kurdi and the Sea Watch 3 and 4, which were joined on Saturday by Geo Barents, from Doctors Without Borders.
Meanwhile, the Mediterranean continues to gobble up lives, while the human rights of tens of thousands of people continue to be violated at the gates of Europe.
With EFE and AFP