Brawls, suicide attempts, physical threats to the crew ... The tension has become such on board the Viking Ocean that the humanitarian ship, which received 180 migrants in the Mediterranean, declared Friday in "state of emergency". Thursday, two men threw themselves overboard in a desperate gesture. On Friday, even before breakfast was distributed, another suicide attempt and a fight involving several migrants took place on board the boat.
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Security that is no longer "guaranteed"
Since then, "the situation on board has deteriorated to the point that the safety of the 180 survivors and the crew can no longer be guaranteed," SOS Méditerranée told AFP. The NGO claims an "immediate" landing. Given the "extreme tension" that reigns there, the Viking Ocean therefore declared itself "in a state of emergency, a first" for a SOS Mediterranean boat, whose rescue operations at sea for 4 and a half years with the Aquarius. In addition, SOS Mediterranean requested a medical evacuation in the afternoon on the grounds of "acute psychological distress". Among the most affected, a group of 44 migrants from Tunisia, Morocco and Egypt.
A negative response from the host countries
It has been a week since the ship made its first request to allocate a port to disembark these people, but after seven requests, no country has given its approval. One of the rescues was carried out on the waters dependent on Italy and Malta. The Viking Ocean received a negative response from both countries.
"I don't feel safe"
"I don't feel safe, we have to find a port now, it's a question of safety", explains Ludovic, one of the seafarers already present at the time of the Aquarius, and who admits having "never experienced such violence" aboard a boat. Since Thursday, several fights have broken out on the deck of the boat between migrants and six suicide attempts have been identified by SOS Mediterranean, but since Friday, it is also the crew which is targeted by these threats, emanating from the same group of migrants.
This situation, summarizes SOS Mediterranean, is the "direct consequence of a long and unnecessary blockage at sea". The Viking Ocean is now off the coast of Sicily.