Sea rescuers call on EU to disembark more than 550 migrants

Rome, Jul 6 (EFE).- The private maritime-humanitarian organization SOS Mediterranee on Tuesday urged the European Union to help bring hundreds of rescued migrants to safety.

Their Ocean Viking rescue vessel saved a total of 572 migrants after it carried out six rescues in the Mediterranean in recent days.

“What we have witnessed at sea these past days is harrowing,” said Luisa Albera, search and rescue coordinator onboard the rescue ship.

“We are calling upon the EU to now at least coordinate for the disembarkation of 572 survivors, currently aboard our ship, in a Place of Safety,” she added.

During a recent five-hour rescue mission, the Ocean Viking safely picked up 369 people from a large wooden boat that risked capsizing several times in the Libyan search and rescue region.

“Not only did we happen to rescue hundreds of people — who took the risk of dying at sea rather than staying in Libya — without any coordination by maritime authorities, but we also witnessed remains of other boats which were intercepted by the Libyan Coast Guard, even as far as in the Maltese Search and Rescue Region,” Albera explained.

The Ocean Viking medical team has treated migrants for sunburn, dehydration, and extreme exhaustion.

Among those rescued were children with disabilities, one of whom found onboard a wooden boat along with his wheelchair is suffering partial paralysis.

The Ocean Viking is the only civil rescue ship currently present in the Mediterranean. It is waiting for the Spanish migrant rescue vessel Open Arms to join in in the next few hours after more than two and half months of a blockade in Sicily.

More than 720 people have died crossing the Mediterranean Sea and some 15,000 others were intercepted by the Libyan coastguard and brought back to the Libyan shores so far this year.

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