SOS dispatch its new ship to rescue migrants off Libya

August 5, 2019
| Report Focus News
A picture taken on August 4, 2019 in Marseille harbour shows the French NGOs SOS Mediterranee and Medecins sans Frontieres (MSF) new boat Ocean Viking moored before the departure for a migrants search and rescue mission off Libya. - The Ocean Viking vessel arrived in Marseille for a technical stop before taking part in a new mission in the Mediterraneen sea to rescue endangered migrants after the NGO's former ship had been forced to cease operations. (Photo by CLEMENT MAHOUDEAU / AFP)

Humanitarian group SOS Mediterranee on Sunday dispatched its new rescue ship to search for migrants stranded in the Mediterranean Sea.

The Norwegian-flagged Ocean Viking set off from the southern French port of Marseilles to focus its activity off the coast of Libya, a major transit point for many migrants.

It is replacing the group’s previous ship, the Aquarius, which ceased operations last year after it was banned from landing migrants in several European ports.

“A lot of [migrant] crossings are taking place right now, that’s related to the summer weather conditions but also to the situation in Libya, which has become a real trigger and explains why people are taking even more risks than before,” Frederic Penard, the rescue group’s operational director, told the AFP news agency.

On Sunday, a German charity disembarked 40 migrants in Malta it had picked up off Libya on Wednesday. Italy refused them permission to land