SOS, MSF relaunch migrants’ rescue operations off Libya’s coast

Libyan coastguard threatens Spanish NGO ships as tensions rise in Mediterranean. [Photo: Internet]

SOS Mediterranee and Doctors Without Borders (MSF) charities have relaunched migrant rescue operations off Libya, seven months after they were forced to abandon efforts using their ship Aquarius.

The two groups “are back at sea with a new vessel, the Ocean Viking, to conduct search and rescue activities in the central Mediterranean”, according to a statement published on Sunday.

“As people are still fleeing Libya on one of the most perilous sea crossings in the world, and with almost no available rescue assets present in the central Mediterranean, it has been an imperative for both SOS Mediterranee and MSF to return.”

Funded in partnership with MSF, the Norwegian-flagged Ocean Viking has a crew of nine, plus a search-and-rescue team and medical and other staff. It is expected to arrive in the central Mediterranean at the end of the month.

The charities said “426 men, women and children have died” since the beginning of the year in the central Mediterranean while attempting to “escape the escalating conflict in Libya and the deplorable conditions of Libyan detention centres”.

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