Nepal | May 29, 2020

Charity ship rescues 50 African migrants in sea off Libya

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Share Now:

ABOARD THE OCEAN VIKING: A charity ship run by humanitarian groups in the Mediterranean spent a rainy Sunday searching open waters for a fragile rubber boat overloaded with migrants before finally plucking 50 people to safety not far off Libya’s coast.

The Norwegian-flagged Ocean Viking, which is operated jointly by SOS Mediterranee and Doctors Without Borders, sent its own boats to pick up a pregnant woman close to full term, 12 minors and 37 men, all from sub-Saharan Africa.

“God bless you!” one of the men told the rescuers as they passed life vests to the wet and barefoot passengers.

At least two people feeling ill collapsed upon arrival on the Ocean Viking, while three others were soaked in fuel and two were suffering from mild hypothermia. The operation was witnessed by an Associated Press journalist aboard the ship, which found the migrant boat some 14 nautical miles (16 statute miles) from Libya.

The rescue occurred 14 hours after the Ocean Viking as well as Libyan, Italian and Maltese authorities, the United Nations’ refugee agency and Moonbird, a humanitarian observation plane, received an email by Alarm Phone, a hotline for migrants. It was an urgent call seeking help for the rubber boat carrying 50 people without a working engine.

The Ocean Viking, which was already in the Libyan search and rescue zone of the central Mediterranean, informed all authorities that it was beginning an active search for the migrant boat. Throughout the morning, the charity ship chased several objects spotted on the horizon, including what turned out to be a floating palm leaf tangled with fishing gear and an empty small fishing boat.

Throughout the morning, the ship tried to contact Libyan officials without success. The AP journalist witnessed at least three phone calls to the Libyan Joint Rescue and Coordination Centre that went unanswered.

The blue rubber boat jammed with the migrants was finally spotted on the horizon near a fishing boat at 1:30 p.m. The fishing boat did not respond to radio contact by the Ocean Viking, which then launched its rescue boats.

At 2:30 pm, the Libyan Coastguard finally answered the phone and the Ocean Viking reported that its crew was in the process of rescuing the migrants.

A European Union plane taking part in the Operation Sophia anti-human trafficking operation flew over the Ocean Viking, the migrant boat and the fishing boat multiple times shortly before the people were rescued.

As required by maritime law, the ship asked Libyan authorities responsible for rescue coordination in that part of the Mediterranean to provide a place of safety to disembark the rescued migrants, but it also made the same request to Italian and Maltese officials. There was no immediate response.

International migration and human rights bodies say Libya is not a place of safety, and Doctors Without Borders does not consider any North African country safe for disembarkation of the migrants.

But for more than a year, migrant rescues performed by non-governmental groups have frequently led to sometimes weeks-long standoffs trying to get European authorities to allow migrants to be landed.


Follow The Himalayan Times on Twitter and Facebook

Recommended Stories:

More from The Himalayan Times:

Are we doing enough for the mental health of healthcare workers?

The number of coronavirus patients has been increasing over the past few days in Nepal. In the current scenario, it seems like the numbers would further increase in the coming days. Given that healthcare workers and frontline staff are the first responders to manage the ongoing pandemic with limited Read More...

India open to engaging with Nepal on the basis of mutual sensitivity, respect: MEA India

KATHMANDU: The External Affairs Ministry of India has expressed that it is willing to hold talks with Nepal in regard to the existing boundary issue between the two countries. Speaking at a presser today, the Indian MEA's official spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said India is monitoring the situat Read More...

Italy's Serie A gets green light for June 20 restart

Sports minister Spadafora says top-flight soccer can resume Italian Cup matches could be staged before league restarts Serie A will be fourth of Europe's top five leagues to return Juventus hold one point lead over Lazio with 12 games left ROME: Italy's top-flight Serie A soccer le Read More...

English Premier League announces June 17 restart

League to resume season subject to safety requirements Starts with Villa v Sheffield Utd and Man City v Arsenal Full fixture list scheduled for weekend of June 19-21 All of the remaining 92 fixtures to be broadcast live MANCHESTER, ENGLAND: The Premier League season will restart Read More...

UN, AI demand impartial probe into Rukum incident

Kathmandu, May 28 The attention of United Nations in Nepal has been drawn to the incident in Rukum (west), where five Dalit youths lost their lives and two went missing when the Dalit youths were chased by a group of villagers. The Dalit youths had gone to the village to help their friend marry a Read More...

‘Nepali Congress will support new map of Nepal’

Kathmandu, May 28 Nepali Congress Spokesperson Bishwa Prakash Sharma said at a press conference today that his party would stand in favour of the newly issued country’s map when the issue would come up in the Parliament but the party had reserved the right to take an organisational decision on Read More...

SC rules lockdown time as zero period  

Kathmandu, May 28   The Supreme Court today ruled that the period between March 22 and the time when the lockdown would end should be considered zero period for those whose deadline for filing or contesting cases or joining court proceedings had lapsed.   The grand Full bench of the apex Read More...

Zuckerberg distances Facebook from Twitter in Trump fight

SAN FRANCISCO: Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg took pains to distance his company from Twitter and its fight with US President Donald Trump on Thursday, as the White House moved to scrap a law protecting social media companies. Republican Trump, who accuses social media firms of b Read More...