NGO Ship Looks For European Port to Land over 250 Migrants

Rescued migrants rest on the desk of the 'Ocean Viking' rescue ship, operated by French NGOs SOS Mediterranee and Medecins sans Frontieres (MSF), during an operation in the Mediterranean Sea on August 12, 2019. - The rescue operation comes as a dispute escalates over which countries will take in migrants …

NGO Doctors Without Borders (MSF) says it is looking for a European port to land after picking up 251 migrants off the coast of Libya.

The MSF and SOS Méditerranée vessel, the Ocean Viking, began its first mission on August 4th and has made three separate migrant pick ups, the most recent seeing 91 people picked up from an inflatable boat off the coast of Libya in the search and rescue (SAR) zone, BFMTV reports.

Frédéric Penard, the director of operations for SOS Méditerranée in France, expressed concern over where the vessel could go to dock in Europe, saying: “We are worried, but the Ocean Viking has been equipped to prepare for this eventuality.”

“We are in touch with the Libyan coastguards who designated us Tripoli as a landing port which we refused because the coast is not safe,” he claimed.

Penard called on European Union member states to find a resolution to the situation, stating: “We expect the signatory states of the maritime conventions to do their job and help the captain to find landing solutions. The states must jointly find a solution within the reach of the European Union.”

Why a safe African port in Tunisia or elsewhere would be unacceptable was not made clear.

The situation comes only days after the Italian government approved a new security decree tabled by populist interior minister Matteo Salvini that will see fines for entering Italian waters without permission increase to one million euros.

MSF announced previously that they had managed to save up 3.5 million euros in the last three years, money that could potentially go towards paying such a fine.

Other NGOs have also begun to ramp up operations in the SAR zone in recent months including the German-based Sea-Eye which picked up migrants but instead of challenging Salvini, their vessel, the Alan Kurdi, headed to dock in Malta instead.

A spokesman for the NGO commented that the organisation would “not offer Matteo Salvini another opportunity for such an unworthy show. We take our responsibilities to the saved people seriously and now we go to Malta.”

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)


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