Ocean Viking ship rescues 175 migrants off Libya

Ocean Viking ship rescues 175 migrants off Libya
Nearly 200 migrants aboard boats in distress off Libya's coast have been rescued by the humanitarian Ocean Viking ship.
2 min read
31 July, 2021
The humanitarian ship rescued 175 people on Saturday [Getty]

The Ocean Viking on Saturday rescued 175 migrants aboard several boats in distress in the Mediterranean Sea off Libya, the humanitarian ship's operator said.

The Ocean Viking first rescued 57 people on a pneumatic dinghy struggling in international waters off the north African Arab country, according to SOS Mediterranee. 

In the afternoon, the ship's crew carried out two additional rescues in the same area, with 54 people plucked from a dinghy.

Later in the day, 64 other people were saved from a wooden vessel, bringing to 175 the number of people taken aboard the Ocean Viking.

The total included at least two pregnant women and 33 minors, 22 of whom were not accompanied by adults.

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According to the International Organization for Migration, at least 1,146 people have died at sea trying to reach Europe during the first half of 2021.

SOS Mediterranee says it has rescued more than 30,000 people since February 2016, first with the ship Aquarius, then with Ocean Viking.

SOS Mediterranee accuses European Union governments of neglecting coordinated search-and-rescue action  to discourage migrants from attempting the crossing from war-torn Libya, where they are often victims of organised crime and militia violence.

Libyan authorities are also accused of forcibly returning intercepted ships to Libya, even when they are in European waters.

A UN Human Rights Office report in late May urged Libya and the EU to overhaul their rescue operations, saying existing policies "fail to prioritise the lives, safety and human rights" of people attempting to cross from Africa.