Updated: 170 asylum seekers rescued by Ocean Viking on first mission

Twitter / MSF

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

A total of 170 asylum seekers among which many unaccompanied minors were rescued by Ocean Viking, a Norwegian-flagged vessel operated by SOS Mediterranee and Doctors Without Borders (MSF).

According to SOS Mediterranee, 35 of the second group rescued are unaccompanied minors. In a tweet MSF said that there is ‘a concerning percentage of unaccompanied minors between the ages of 13 and 15’.

The group consists of only male individuals claiming to hail from Guinea Conakry, Sudan and South Sudan.

More than 80 asylum seekers rescued by Ocean Viking

A second rescue operation was successfully completed by Ocean Viking, a Norwegian-flagged vessel operated by SOS Mediterranee and Doctors Without Borders (MSF).

READ: Migrants rescued by Ocean Viking in its first search and rescue operation

Over 80 people were rescued by the civil search and rescue vessel in the Central Mediterranean. This is the second rescue operation during the Ocean Viking’s first mission in the Central Mediterranean.

On Friday, the Ocean Viking rescued 85 survivors, out of which five are women and 25 children which include a 1-year-old baby. The rescue was completed by 11:35am on Friday. According to SOS Mediterranee the claimed nationalities are Ivory Coast, Guinea Conakry, Senegal, Mali, Gambia, Chad, Sudan, South Sudan and Eritrea.

Ocean Viking reported a potential boat in distress to the Libyan Joint Rescue Coordination Centre prior to proceeding to the rescue.

MSF and SOS Mediterranee have only recently relaunched their rescue operations in the Central Mediterranean sea, with Ocean Viking leaving Marseilles on 4 August.

READ: MSF and SOS Mediterranee restart SAR operations

160 asylum seekers are on board the Spanish-flagged rescue vessel Open Arms, 121 of which have been stranded for more than seven days as both Malta and Italy refused to grant the rescue vessel a safe port.

READ: Malta “causing tension” by accepting only 39 immigrants – Open Arms

On Friday evening the Maltese Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre was alerted by Alarm Phone of another boat in distress in Maltese search and rescue region. Newsbook.com.mt reached out to the Armed Forces of Malta to confirm whether they were aware of the situation. The AFM replied with “no information yet”.

Open Arms which happened to be in the area rescued the 39 people in distress under the coordination of the Maltese RCC.

On Saturday the government issued a statement that it Open Arms is insisting that Malta takes the 121 migrants which are still without a safe port, in addition to the 39 asylum seekers rescued during last night’s operation. The government insisted that the 121 individuals including baby twins, were not rescued in waters which are under Malta’s responsibility.

Interior Minister Michael Farrugia that “Malta can only shoulder its own responsibility” in a tweet.

A spokesperson for the European Commission said that no member state has initiated contact with it to initiate the process for an ad hoc agreement which would end the current stand off.