Migrant rescue operations resumed by MSF and SOS Mediterranee ship in Mediterranean

International aid agencies SOS Mediterranee and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) have resumed rescue operations for migrants off the Libyan coast, seven months after these efforts were suspended. A new rescue ship, the Ocean Viking, operated by the two organisations has set sail.

Pressure from European countries like Italy and Malta have forced the charities’ rescue missions from the Mediterranean Sea, leaving hundreds of irregular migrants who depart North African shores on unsafe and unseaworthy boats at higher risk.

MSF Head of Search and Rescue Sam Turner said, “As long as EU governments fail to take their responsibility for search and rescue operations, and as long people continue to flee Libya, humanitarian vessels will be needed in the Mediterranean.”

The two charities’ previous rescue ship, The Aquarius,  will be replaced by a more spacious and better-adapted ship, Ocean Viking. The ship set sail on 2 August 2019 from southern France to kick-off its search and rescue work across the central Mediterranean with no cooperation or support from the European Union.

Frederic Penard, director of operations for SOS Mediterranee said in an interview with Spanish international news agency, Efe, “For three years we have demanded that European governments find a system that allows people not to die in the central Mediterranean. It is not a problem of Italy or Malta, it is a problem of the whole of Europe.”

Calls for the restart of government rescue operations for migrants in the Mediterranean Sea and for those trapped amid ongoing clashes in Libya have recently been made by UN agencies.

The Mediterranean Sea continues to be among the deadliest sea routes for irregular migrants. According to the latest report from the International Organization for Migration (IOM), nearly 700 migrant deaths have been recorded across the Mediterranean between January and July of this year.

TMP – 09/08/2019

Photo credit: eldar nurkovic/ Shutterstock.com

Photo caption: There were no adequate rescue operation efforts in the Mediterranean sea since December 2018.