Ship boat

Ocean Viking rescue ship carrying 114 migrants remains stranded a week later

A rescue ship that rescued 114 migrants off the Libyan coast last week is still looking for a safe port to disembark them.

A week after picking up the migrants, the Ocean Viking rescue vessel was still stranded at sea, according to the NGO SOS Méditerranée.

“A week after their rescue, they are still at sea without any certainty as to their disembarkation,” the Marseille NGO said in a statement on Thursday.

“Despite the care provided by the Ocean Viking teams, signs of fatigue, exhaustion and anxiety are increasing among those rescued,” he added.

The NGO warned that “the harsh winter weather conditions at sea, the cold and the permanent humidity to which they are exposed constitute additional difficulties”.

He asked the authorities to give him permission to stop over to disembark the rescued people in a safe place.

The Ocean Viking, chartered by SOS Méditerranée in partnership with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), had rescued 114 people from an inflatable boat in distress in international waters off the coast of France. Libya on December 16.

Among them were 72 men, 11 women and 31 minors, 27 of whom were unaccompanied. Two newborns and a child under the age of four are among the minors, said SOS Méditerranée.

Despite persistent insecurity, Libya remains an important crossing point for tens of thousands of migrants seeking to reach Europe each year via the Italian coast, 300 km away.

According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), nearly 23,000 people have died or gone missing in the Mediterranean since 2014, after trying to reach Europe, including nearly 1,700 since early 2021.

“In this cold and in confined spaces, the situation can only get worse hour by hour for the survivors aboard the Ocean Viking,” said Luisa Albera, search and rescue coordinator on board the Ocean Viking. .

“Over the past three years, we have been stranded at sea several times with castaways on board; we know all too well the implications of such difficult situations, ”she added.

“They lead to serious consequences, acute psychological distress and increasing deterioration in physical health. We must disembark now.

In November this year, the same ship was stranded for nine days in rough waters amid a standoff with European authorities.

He eventually brought 360 migrants and refugees to the Sicilian port of Augusta.