11 unaccompanied minors on Ocean Viking; NGOs call for EU port of safety

Credit: Médecins Sans Frontières / Twitter

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

There are 11 unaccompanied minors among the over 100 minors rescued by Ocean Viking rescue vessel, MSF and SOS MEDITERRANEE have said.

These 103 minors are understood to be under 18 years old and make up just under a third of those who have been rescued by the humanitarian organisations since they restarted their Search and Rescue operations in the Central Mediterranean.

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After four days of operation, Ocean Viking vessel is now accommodating 356 men, women and children. The humanitarian organisations make their joint announcement as they call on the Italian and Maltese maritime authorities to take the lead on finding a port of safety for those rescued. They state that the Libyan authorities have failed to, ‘respond to any alerts from the Ocean Viking, except to ask that the ship disembark survivors in Libya.’

Both MSF and SOS MEDITERRANEE state that such a move would be, ‘contrary to international law’ and that it would, ‘not return survivors to Libya under any circumstance.’

Twitter/ SOS Mediterranee

‘The sobering reality is that there is an ongoing conflict in Libya where many vulnerable migrants and refugees are trapped in detention centres on the frontline. We are now asking for a place of safety to disembark these vulnerable people without delay. They have suffered enough.’ MSF’s Project Coordinator on board Ocean Viking, Jay Berger said.

 MSF’s medical doctor on board Ocean Viking, Dr Luca Pigozzi, explained that, ‘People, including underage minors, have described being tortured with electric shocks, beaten with guns and sticks, or burned with melted plastic. They tell me how they still feel the pain from their wounds and scars sustained during their time in Libya.’