Ocean Viking, a ship hired by SOS Meditarani, a European maritime and humanitarian NGO based in Marseille in the south of France, landed on Saturday in Augusta, Sicily, with 236 migrants rescued from Libya on Tuesday, the organization announced.
According to the NGO cited by the media in France, the boat landed its passengers after receiving authorization from Italian maritime authorities.
The NGO said in a statement that on 27 April, the Ocean Viking team rescued 236 men, women and children from two inflatable boats in crisis in international waters.
The migrants were in international waters 32 nautical miles off the coast of Xavia, a city in western Libya according to the SOS Mediterranean.
In the port of Augusta, migrants were subjected to identity checks and pass tests for Kovid-19, while illegal minors were transported to special reception facilities, according to the press.
Facing gradual migratory tragedies in the Mediterranean Sea, SOS Mendtrani called for the immediate establishment of an effective European search and rescue system in accordance with law and responding to the values of humanity.
“This withdrawal is required for effective, rapid and non-exclusive coordination between maritime, maritime authorities and all vessels present at sea, in full respect to international maritime law,” the statement said.
Assuming that “the reinstatement of a European search and rescue fleet is the only option”, SOS Mendtrani insisted that the only boats to try to find people in crisis on April 22 were three merchant ships and the Ocean Viking.
The NGO however welcomes that Friday, “for the first time in months, a ship from the European Navy, more accurately the Italian Navy, defended from Libya into international waters”.
According to data from the International Organization for Migration (IOM), at least 453 migrants have died trying to reach Europe via the Mediterranean since the beginning of the year.