Ocean Viking rescues, Sea Watch 3 transfers, Alan Kurdi to undergo maintenance after release. Pull-backs continue but face legal action. Dozens missing after another shipwreck off Libya.

On Thursday, the civilian Search & Rescue (SAR) vessel ‘Ocean Viking’ rescued a total of 118 people in two operations in the Italian and Maltese SAR zones. SOS MEDITERANEE, the NGO operating the ship, announced: “All are currently being taken care of by our Care and Medical team. Their health is being thoroughly monitored.” The first rescue of 51 people took place after being alerted to the distress case team? by the NGO ‘Alarm Phone’.

After blocking the SAR vessel Alan Kurdi in the port of Palermo in earlyMay, after citing “technical deficiencies”, the Italian authorities released the ship, which is now on its way to Spain to undergo further maintenance. Gordon Isler, head of the NGO Sea Eye, which operates the ship, criticised the Italian authorities for the disproportionate attention paid to their ship and for impeding their next mission scheduled for July.

The SAR vessel ‘Sea Watch 3’, run by the NGO Sea Watch, received permission to enter  Port Empedocle inSicily carrying the 211 people rescued in three operations carried out in the previous week. After undergoing medical examinations, the group was transferred to an Italian ferry for a precautionary quarantine.  Sea watch is calling upon all EU countries to organize the relocation of those rescued as soon as possible.

A crew member from the reconnaissance airplane ‘Moonbird’ reports on their observations of the illegal pull-backs by Tunisian and Libyan Coast Guards, presumed to have been coordinated with the help of the EU agency FRONTEX and Member state authorities. Sea Watch, which operates the plane, has called upon the #EU to end the cooperation with the so-called Libyan Coast Guard immediately.

The CSDM has submitted a formal request to the UN Committee against Torture to launch an inquiry procedure concerning Italy’s conduct in the Central Mediterranean. The submission argues that Italy’s actions lead to the mass torture, rape and forced labour of thousands of people returned to Libya when trying to reach Europe.

Last weekend saw the second shipwreck off the Libyan coast in one week. 19 survivors were taken to an unofficial detention center, three bodies have been recovered, and an unspecified number of people remain missing. In another shipwreck off the Tunisian coast in early July over 60 people lost their lives.

For further information:


Photo:  Sebastian Grochowicz 

This article appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin . You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.