The NGO-operated migrant rescue ship Geo Barents has been released from the Sicilian port of Augusta. It had been impounded by the Italian coastguard last month, citing technical irregularities.
The release of the ship came after it had been impounded for three weeks. Doctors Without Borders (MSF), which operates the Geo Barents, claims that the boat had only been impounded to prevent the charity from carrying out its rescue missions in the Mediterranean.
MSF wrote on Twitter that the Geo Barents capacity to rescue migrants was urgently needed, as rescue missions in the Mediterranean are currently at capacity. The Geo Barents will now join the Ocean Viking, run by SOS Mediterranee, and Sea-Watch 3, run by Sea-Watch, in their rescue missions.
Hundreds of rescuees seeking safe harbor
The Ocean Viking currently has at least 553 people on board, who were rescued at sea in recent days. Many of them are reportedly suffering from seasickness now, and some have collapsed from heatstroke and exhaustion, according to the crew on board. The ship is currently looking for a safe harbor to disembark the migrants,
Meanwhile, Sea-Watch 3 said it has almost 260 migrants on board. Several people have already been taken off the ship due to reports of severe poor health.
Sea arrivals in Lampedusa
Meanwhile, the Italian ANSA news agency reported that about 420 migrants had arrived in small boats on the southern Italian island of Lampedusa on Monday night.
At least 1,146 people have lost their lives during attempts to reach Europe this year alone, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM). Experts assume that the number of unreported cases is actually much higher.