SOS MEDITERRANEE and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) have launched a campaign to search and save illegal migrants off the coast of Libya starting from July 18, SOS MEDITERRANEE announced on Saturday.
SOS MEDITERRANEE, a European maritime and humanitarian organization for the rescue of life in the Mediterranean, has sent a new vessel, the Ocean Viking, with a crew of 31 people in the central Mediterranean to search and rescue migrants crossing the Mediterranean from Libya to European countries for a better life.
“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 at sea following the ending of their operations with the Aquarius in December 2018,” the statement said.
The SOS added that 426 people have died since the beginning of 2019 while trying to escape the deteriorating situation in Libya.
“For a year now we have been witnesses of a deterioration in the European Union’s response in the evolving human tragedy in the central Mediterranean”, says Frédéric Penard, SOS MEDITERRANEE’s Head of Operations.
Penard added that the EU “took back” the navel vessels of its Operation of Sophia and continued to take “harsh” measures against the civil society.
“There is still no coordinated, sustainable and shared mechanism of disembarkation in accordance with maritime law”, Frédéric Penard added.
Mogherini, vice-president of the European Commission, explained in March that there are “many disagreements” between the participating countries regarding the Operation of Sophia, which may eventually risk termination by the end of March, unless all states reach an agreement on it.
Further, Italy’s far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini was cited in Italian media complaining that people rescued by Sophia are only offloaded in Italy.
The complaint is part of an outstanding dispute by Salvini, who last year insisted that people should be disembarked in other EU states.