Out of concern for the safety of those rescued on board, Ocean Viking has declared an emergency. The situation on the ship had escalated to such an extent that the safety of the 180 rescued on board and the crew could no longer be guaranteed, said the aid organization SOS Méditerranée. The Ocean Viking has been on the Mediterranean for days with the refugees rescued from distress.

"More than half of those rescued have desperately been waiting for a safe place on the ship for over a week," said Verena Papke, managing director of SOS Méditerranée Germany. In recent days, the authorities in Italy and Malta have denied all requests to moor in one of their Mediterranean ports, the release said.

Many of the survivors suffered from depression

There have been six suicide attempts on board in the past 24 hours. Another 44 people have said they intend to harm themselves and others. On Thursday, two men jumped overboard and were then rescued by the Ocean Viking rescue team . The next day a man tried to hang himself. Many of the survivors were in great mental distress and suffered from depression. There are arguments and physical arguments.

The proclamation of the state of emergency on board was "unprecedented in the five-year history of SOS Méditerranée". However, the organization sees itself "forced to do so by the rapid deterioration of the mental state of some of the survivors on board".

EU countries should find solutions for the refugees

Among the refugees who rescued the helpers from the sea between June 25 and 30, were 25 minors. The organization appealed to all EU countries to find a solution for the survivors on board the Ocean Viking . The federal government, in particular, is now responsible for working towards a solution as part of the German EU Council Presidency.

Countries such as Italy and Malta are now refusing to accept rescued refugees. They call for the solidarity of the other EU countries in the distribution of refugees. So far, all attempts to achieve a fair distribution within Europe have failed. It was only in mid-June that the Ocean Viking resumed its rescue operations in the Mediterranean. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the ship crew had paused three months.

Numerous people keep trying to get from Africa across the Mediterranean to Europe in unseaworthy boats. According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), 1,283 people drowned last year. There have been a total of more than 19,000 deaths in the past five years.