Rescue ship seeks European port to disembark hundreds of migrants

·2-min read

The charity group operating the Ocean Viking migrant rescue ship has asked the European Union to find a port where it can dock to disembark over 570 people rescued from the Mediterranean over recent days.

On board are 572 people, including 183 minors, according to the Ocean Viking's operator, SOS Méditerranée. They were picked up in six rescue operations in Maltese and Libyan waters over three days earlier this week.

Overnight Sunday, the ship came to the aid of wooden boat that had set off from Libya with 369 men, women and children on board.

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

The group has not given details of where the Ocean Viking is, but marine traffic observers have placed it between Malta and Sicily.

SOS Méditerranée, based in the southern French port of Marseille, said maritime authorities have not helped in the search and rescue operations and is calling on the EU to intervene.

In the past, France has agreed to take in some asylum seekers rescued by the ship and its predecessor, but since the Covid crisis, many countries have closed their borders.

The group accuses EU governments of neglecting coordinated search-and-rescue action in a bid to discourage people from attempting the crossing from Libya.

The number of Mediterranean crossings have increased since the start of the summer, as people take advantage of good weather and calmer seas to try to reach Italy.

As a result, the number of people who have died in shipwrecks has also increased. More than 880 migrants have died so far this year on the crossing from North Africa to Europe, according to the International Organisation for Migration.

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