Italy has authorized the Ocean Viking, SOS Mediterranean’s rescue vessel at sea, to dock in Sicily to disembark 572 migrants, the NGO said Thursday evening.
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“The Ocean Viking received this evening from the Italian maritime authorities a much awaited news: the 572 survivors will disembark in Augusta, in Sicily”, the NGO based in Marseille (south of France) said on Twitter. “It is a huge relief to know their ordeal at sea is almost over and that the 6 rescues will finally be finalized soon”, she added. SOS Mediterranean launched an appeal on Wednesday to the European Union to find a safe port and disembark the migrants collected on board the Ocean Viking “as quickly as possible”.
The NGO was alarmed at the exhaustion of prepackaged food rations and medicines, as well as the state of health of some passengers, exhausted and dehydrated after three days at sea in the sun before their rescue. “The situation is deteriorating hour by hour. The medical team is reporting more and more cases of psychological distress “, among the passengers, including women, children and a four-month-old baby, she warned Thursday, a few hours before getting the green light from Rome to reach Sicily.
Since the start of 2021, 898 migrants have lost their lives in the Mediterranean trying to reach Europe, including 734 on the central route to Malta and Italy, according to figures from the International Organization for Migration ( IOM). SOS Méditerranée claims to have rescued more than 30,000 people since February 2016, first with the Aquarius, then the Ocean Viking.
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