This is the first docking since the ship was authorized to go back to sea. Faced with the deteriorating weather conditions, the Ocean Viking will be able to dock in the Sicilian port of Augusta and disembark the 422 migrants there. collected at sea off Libya, SOS Méditerranée, the charterer of the ship, informed this Sunday. According to this Marseille-based NGO, his ambulance ship should arrive in Augusta around 7 p.m. Sunday.
The green light from the Italian authorities came a few hours after a press release from SOS Méditerranée relaying the call for help from Luisa Albera, coordinator of search and rescue operations on the ship.
Pregnant woman evacuated by helicopter
“The 422 people on board, including babies, children, pregnant women and unaccompanied minors, have the same rights as any person rescued at sea. They must urgently disembark in a safe port”, she said in this report. text.
“The weather conditions are deteriorating and the possible arrival of rain and strong winds will further worsen the situation”, insisted Luisa Albera, stressing that it was not possible to put all the people gathered to sheltered from bad weather, some of them being forced to stay on the aft deck of the ship.
Since it resumed sea in mid-January in Marseille, after several months stranded in Italy, the Ocean Viking has taken in 424 people in total. Two of them, a pregnant woman and her companion, were evacuated by helicopter to Malta on Friday.
Eight cases of Covid-19 on board
According to Luisa Albera, several people on board “are in a precarious state of health and under permanent observation”: eight passengers in particular tested positive for Covid-19 and isolated, “in order to stop the spread of the Covid on board”. The candidates for exile from Africa leave mainly Tunisia and Libya to reach Europe via Italy, whose coasts are the closest.
More than 1,200 migrants perished in 2020 in the Mediterranean, the vast majority of them on this central route, according to the International Organization for Migration.
NGO ships, such as the Ocean Viking, save lives but have also been accused for several years of playing the game of smugglers. The European Union has been divided on how to handle the problem since the illegal migrant crisis started in 2015, when more than a million of them arrived on European shores.
Original article by : www.leparisien.fr