The NGO-run search and rescue ship Ocean Viking | Photo: Archive/ANSA/Francesco Ruta
The NGO-run search and rescue ship Ocean Viking | Photo: Archive/ANSA/Francesco Ruta

The NGO rescue ship Ocean Viking took on board 274 migrants in three rescue operations off the coast of Libya on Tuesday and Wednesday. Among them are reportedly 22 women and 64 minors.

The Ocean Viking rescued 92 migrants from a rubber boat off the Libyan coast on Wednesday. It was the third rescue mission in two days for the rescue ship, which is operated by SOS Mediterranee and Doctors Without Borders (MSF). Many of the people rescued were “extremely weak and in a state of distress,” SOS wrote on Twitter.

On Tuesday, the Ocean Viking had first rescued 84 people from a wooden boat, and then another 98 migrants from a rubber boat a few hours later. 

Now, the ship is waiting for a safe port to disembark. According to SOS Mediterranee, the Ocean Viking has contacted Italian and Maltese authorities, but not yet heard back.

Criticism of European leaders

In its account of the recent rescue operations, SOS Mediterranee criticized the perceived lack of support from European states in rescue missions. 

“These three Search and Rescue operations were again conducted with a complete lack of coordination from maritime authorities,” said search and rescue coordinator Nicholas Romaniuk. “The Libyan Joint Rescue Coordination Center would not answer our calls or the person on duty could not speak English. European Coordination Centers continued to tell us to contact the Libyan authorities and offered no support even though I repeatedly informed them that Tripoli was not responding.”

“European leaders are showing less and less empathy and a complete disregard for human life,” Romaniuk claimed. He criticized the imminent end of Operation Sophia. Under a possible new mission, the SOS activist said, “EU naval assets will reportedly operate far from the usual area of distress, [and] all that will remain will be the… Libyan Coast Guard.” Said coast guard, Romaniuk said, returns migrants “to a country in an ongoing conflict, with ceaseless human rights violations." 

With material from dpa, AFP


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