The refugee helpers on the rescue ship “Ocean Viking” rescued more than 570 people from distress in the Mediterranean within a few days.
After an operation on Monday night, a total of 572 refugees were on board the rescue ship, as the European organization SOS Méditerranée announced on the online service Twitter. Since Thursday, the helpers have therefore completed six rescue missions.
SOS Méditerranée announced that a “large wooden boat” was in distress off the Libyan coast that night. In a rescue operation lasting more than five hours, 369 refugees were taken on board the “Ocean Viking”, including 110 unaccompanied minors as well as an infant and two other children.
During the entire rescue operation, the boat threatened to overturn, the organization said. According to the information, the most recently rescued people come from Egypt, Bangladesh and Eritrea, among others.
SOS Méditerranée announced two rescue operations on Sunday. The Ocean Viking took 71 migrants off the coast of Malta. They were in an overloaded wooden boat that had started three days earlier from the Libyan coast, it said. Four people had to be rescued from the boat on stretchers because of their weakened condition.
Previously, the helpers said they had rescued 67 people from an “overcrowded wooden boat” that was about to capsize.
The rescue operations of the “Ocean Viking” began last Thursday. On that day, the rescue ship picked up a total of 44 people from two wooden boats. During the first rescue operation in the Maltese rescue zone, the helpers were disturbed by an approaching Libyan patrol boat, said SOS Méditerranée.
Non-governmental organizations active in the Mediterranean Sea repeatedly raise serious allegations against the Libyan coast guard and call on the EU to end its cooperation with the agency.
According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), 886 migrants have already died in the dangerous crossing over the Mediterranean since the beginning of the year. Last year the death toll was more than 1200. Experts assume a high number of unreported cases. SOS Méditerranée claims to have saved more than 30,000 people since February 2016. Before the “Ocean Viking” was put into operation, the organization was in action on the Mediterranean with the rescue ship “Aquarius”.
isd / dja