Ocean Viking still seeking port of safety; 13 days stranded at sea

It has been almost two weeks since the Ocean Viking rescue vessel operated by MSF Doctors Without Borders and SOS Mediterranee has been awaiting a port of safety for 356 people currently stranded on board.

Ocean Viking is currently stationery between Malta and Lampedusa within international waters.

According to the NGOs, their requests for entry into Malta had been denied owing to the member state saying it could not responsibility. Its requests to the Italians have not been answered.

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“It’s a miracle he is still alive” 

There are understood to be around 100 minors among those rescued, 90 of them unaccompanied. The majority of those on board are Sudanese.

In a tweet, SOS Mediteranee said that anxiety was building on board the ship. ‘Why aren’t we moving? Are we going back to #Libya?’ the NGO reports adding that, ‘They must be taken to a place of safety as soon as possible.’

Open Arms

The news comes as migrants on board the Spanish NGO Proactiva Open Arms were disembarked on Lampedusa, along with the seizure of the vessel. It is expected that those rescued will soon to be distributed to other EU member states.

The standoff at sea had lasted around 3 weeks with a decree banning the vessel’s entry to Italian territorial waters being lifted by the Regional Court of Lazio. The court stated that the situation on board was so desperate that the vessel should be brought into the territorial zone but stopped short of providing a port of disembarkation.

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Photos: Migrants disembark Open Arms rescue ship on Italian island of Lampedusa

Spain sends warship to pick up migrants off Italy’s coast

Watch: Charity boat rejects Spain’s offer to stranded migrants

Updated: Italian govt should realize ‘gravity of emergency’; let them disembark – Sassoli

In the time prior to the disembarkation, minors and the sick had been medically evacuated from the vessel.

The NGO rejected a claim from Spain to disembark migrants there, stating that they could not afford to sail with the medical and sanitary conditions on board the vessel.

Supplies running low

According to SOS Mediterranee, the Ocean Viking’s supplies are starting to run low and it has forced the crew to ration.

‘People sleep on the floor. We have a limited number of showers, a limited water capacity. These people have suffered enormously, most of them have gone through detention centres in Libya. They need to disembark as soon as possible’