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Saturday, 25 September 2021

Rescue ship seeks EU port for 572 migrants found in Mediterranean

Since the start of the summer the number of crossings have increased as migrants take advantage of the good weather and calmer seas, but the numbers of those lost at sea has also risen

AFP , Tuesday 6 Jul 2021
Ocean Viking
This handout photograph released by SOS Mediterranee on July 6, 2021, shows some of the 369 migrants who were rescued from a large wooden boat in The Meditterranean Sea off the coast of Libya SRR, as they gather on the deck of rescue vessel Ocean Viking AFP
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The Ocean Viking migrant rescue ship urged EU members on Tuesday to allow 572 people picked up in the Mediterranean Sea over three days to be brought ashore.

The NGO vessel carried out one of its largest rescues in years on Sunday night, involving a boat that set off from Libya with 369 men, women and children and that was at risk of capsizing.

"Such large unseaworthy wooden boats launched from the coast of Libya had not been encountered by our teams in several years," the Ocean Viking's operator, SOS Mediterranee, said in a statement.

The operation was Ocean Viking's sixth rescue within days and brought the total number of migrants onboard to 527.

Earlier Sunday, it rescued 71 migrants from another overcrowded wooden boat that had departed from Libya, a key departure point for crossings from Africa to Europe.

"Amid absence of maritime coordination, SOS Mediterranee calls on the EU to urgently coordinate for 572 survivors to disembark in a place of safety," Marseille-based SOS Mediterranee said, noting that 183 of those rescued were children.

Since the start of the summer the number of crossings have increased as migrants take advantage of the good weather and calmer seas, but the numbers of those lost at sea has also risen.

So far this year, more than 880 migrants have died trying to reach Europe from North Africa, according to the International Organization for Migration.

SOS Mediterranee says EU governments are neglecting coordinated search-and-rescue action in a bid to discourage migrants from attempting the crossing from war-torn Libya.

A UN Human Rights Office report in late May urged Libya and the European Union to overhaul their rescue operations, saying existing policies "fail to prioritise the lives, safety and human rights" of people attempting to cross from Africa.

EU nations such as Italy and Malta have often resisted letting the migrants into their ports, arguing that more efforts are needed in North Africa to evaluate and organise migration requests.

*This story was edited by Ahram Online. 

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