On board the Ocean Viking (AFP)
The humanitarian vessel Ocean Viking rescued an additional 105 migrants in international waters off Libya on Monday, and now has 356 people looking for a safe port to land, AFP reported on board.
At the same time, more than 150 migrants were stranded, some for more than 10 days, on the Spanish Open Arms ship off the Italian island of Lampedusa.
The blue rubber canoe was spotted in the day about 40 nautical miles from the Libyan coast, thanks to the permanent watch set up on the upper deck of the ship chartered by SOS Mediterranean and Doctors Without Borders (MSF).
On board were 105 men and adolescents, mostly Sudanese, including 29 minors, including two children aged between 5 and 12 years.
The two previous boats rescued Saturday and Sunday by the Ocean Viking also carried a large number of Sudanese fleeing Libya.
Monday's operation was more complicated than the previous ones: when the lifeguard zodiacs arrived at its height, the boat had begun to deflate and more than half a dozen people fell into the water.
All the migrants were rescued and taken safely to the deck of the Ocean Viking.
This large red boat is equipped to accommodate between 200 and 250 people in good conditions in containers on the deck, but it still has the capacity to collect new migrants if the situation requires, say the two NGOs.
The Ocean Viking will continue its patrols off Libya, the weather being currently favorable departures, and while the beginning of the great Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha could make the Libyan coastguards less vigilant .
There is indeed no other NGO available: the Alan Kurdi Sea-Eye has just returned to its base in Mallorca, Mare Jonio Mediterranea (whose sequestration was lifted last week) is still in Sicily, and the Proactiva Open Arms Open Arms are stalling off Lampedusa.
"Holes of 2.2 m are planned for Wednesday afternoon.The Open Arms prohibited to enter the Italian territorial waters to shelter in Lampedusa, and in Maltese waters to shelter in Malta. ", quipped on social networks Oscar Camps, founder of the Spanish NGO.
© 2019 AFP