Sea-Eye's "Alan Kurdi" search and rescue vessel | Photo: Sea Eye/Fabian Heinz
Sea-Eye's "Alan Kurdi" search and rescue vessel | Photo: Sea Eye/Fabian Heinz

Some 137 migrants picked up overnight in rescue operations off the Libyan coast are waiting for a safe port to come ashore. Seven migrants, including two new-born babies, have already been evacuated to Lampedusa for medical reasons.

The Ocean Viking ship, jointly run by charities SOS Mediterranee and Doctors Without Borders (MSF), has 60 migrants aboard who were rescued some 60 nautical miles (111 kilometres) north of Libya on Thursday evening. On Twitter, SOS Mediterranee said the migrants were picked up from a „severely overcrowded and unstable wooden boat.“

A three-month-old baby boy and his three-year-old brother are among the rescued.

Meanwhile, the Alan Kurdi vessel run by German NGO Sea-Eye took aboard 84 people in two separate operations on Thursday after receiving an emergency alert from the distress hotline Alarmphone.

During its first rescue, Sea-Eye picked up 44 migrants from a rubber dinghy, including 21 women, one small child and two new-borns of just a few weeks old. Some of the women told Sea-Eye they had been stuck in Libya for three years, reports the Catholic news agency in Germany, KNA.

In the second rescue operation which happened just a few hours later, Sea-Eye picked up another 40 migrants, again including minors -- three small children. Sea-Eye writes on its homepage that they were again alerted by Alarmphone and that the surveillance aircraft Colibri run by the Pilotes Volontaires charity had located the dinghy shortly after. 

One woman was unconscious at the time of the rescue, Sea-Eye said, but she became stable after receiving medical care onboard the Alan Kurdi. Thursday, the NGO tweeted that one of the new-borns was in a critical condition and that it appeared the baby had not had fluids in two days.

Medical evacuation

Friday morning Sea-Eye reported that seven migrants – four adults, two new-borns and one small child -- were evacuated to Lampedusa. "Two of the children are just four and eight weeks old, the third 18 months."

So far, the two charities have not received permission to disembark the 137 remaining migrants at a safe port. European maritime coordination centers have not answered the request made by Sea-Eye on Thursday afternoon, the NGO writes on their website. 

Returning the migrants to Libya was not an option in light of human rights abuses there, Sea-Eye said. "If Libya were a safe place, then these people would not have risked their lives to leave the place," said Sea-Eye chairman Gorden Isler. A safe port, according to international law, could only be one in Europe, added Julian Pahlke, spokesperson of Sea-Eye. There should be no "tug of war with people in flight."

ch/ew  With material from KNA/dpa


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