Crew members of the “Ocean Viking”, August 10, 2019. - Anne CHAON / AFP

The "Ocean Viking", which assisted Thursday in the Mediterranean to 118 migrants fleeing Libya, has already made "three requests" to Italy and Malta to be assigned a port of disembarkation, said on Monday l 'NGO charters the ship. On the other hand, clarified in the evening SOS Mediterranean, Italy accepted the request for medical evacuation of a migrant who had been placed in isolation from Thursday for a fever, in the context of the health crisis of the coronavirus.

His condition "worsened during the day" on Tuesday and a transhipment to an Italian coast guard vessel is expected around 11 p.m., the NGO said. The SOS Mediterranean ambulance boat is currently between the coasts and is waiting to be able to dock in a port. "We made three requests, Friday morning, Saturday and today (Monday) late in the morning, but we did not receive a response, not even an acknowledgment of receipt" from the authorities concerned, deplored the spokesperson for the NGO, Laurence Bondard, with a journalist on board the "Ocean Viking".

"Urgent" to take them "in charge"

"It is unacceptable and illegal under international maritime law which is very clear: anyone rescued at sea must be able to be disembarked as quickly as possible in a safe place," she added. It is “urgent” that the 118 people gathered this Thursday on two wooden boats “are taken care of”, underlined the spokesperson, adding that on the fourth day of waiting, the migrants “begin to be anxious”.

The first rescue operation took place in international waters, close to Italy and Malta, while the second was carried out in the Maltese search and rescue area, according to the NGO. "We call on the Italian and Maltese authorities to mobilize immediately and in solidarity," said the NGO, which resumed operations a week ago after three months of stoppage linked to the health crisis.

The docking of migrant boats remains subject to strict rules due to the Covid-19 epidemic. Twenty-eight of the 209 migrants rescued in the Mediterranean by the German NGO Sea Watch and then placed in quarantine on a ferry in a Sicilian port, tested positive for coronavirus last week. The Maltese authorities have set up a similar system of quarantine at sea on tourist boats.


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