64 minors among those stranded on humanitarian vessel

Twitter / MSF

274 individuals including 64 minors most of whom are unaccompanied remain stranded on the Ocean Viking, a humanitarian vessel operated by SOS MEDITERRANEE in partnership with Doctors Without Borders (MSF).

The vessel remains without a safe port where the people rescued could be disembarked.

In a statement the organisations said that the men, women and children were rescued over three operations in the Central Mediterranean on 18-19 February.

SOS MEDITERRANEE Search and Rescue Coordinator, Nicholas Romaniuk, said that the operations were conducted with a complete lack of coordination from maritime authorities. Romaniuk underlined that the Libyan Joint Rescue Coordination Center would either not take their calls or else the person on duty would not speak English.

“European Coordination Centers continued to tell us to contact the Libyan authorities and offered no support even though I repeatedly informed them that Tripoli was not responding,” he said.

The search and rescue coordinator lambasted the approach, saying that people were left at risk in unseaworthy boats.

The NGO accused the Rescue Coordination Centers and European air assets of not alerting vessels in the area about boats and people in danger and potentially deadly situations.

“Rescuing people in distress at sea is a duty and obligation under maritime law,” Romaniuk reminded. He added that he was concerned with the anti-rescue rhetoric which was shaping EU policies.