ON BOARD THE OCEAN VIKING: The Ocean Viking charity ship rescued more than 80 migrants off the coast of Libya on Saturday, according to Doctors without Borders (MSF), which operates the vessel along with the French charity SOS Mediterranee.
The migrants, mainly Sudanese men and adolescents, were picked up after the Ocean Viking rescued 85 people including four children on Friday. The white rubber dinghy was spotted after a plane was seen repeatedly flying over it, MSF mission head Jay Berger said.
European forces regularly patrol the central Mediterranean looking for boats leaving the Libyan coast, particularly during mild weather.
The Ocean Viking sailed toward the area where the plane seemed to be focusing on and found the dinghy, Berger said.
“But the plane never tried to communicate with us,” he added.
Some 170 migrants, all from sub-Saharan Africa, are now on board the Ocean Viking, which left Marseille on Sunday. An AFP journalist is also on board.
Italy’s far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, who has taken a hard line against migrants and this week sparked a political crisis by pulling his support from the country’s governing coalition, has sent a warning to Oslo, where the rescue ship is registered.
“Italy is not legally bound, nor disposed to taken in clandestine, unidentified migrants from on board the Ocean Viking,” he wrote.
He has said the same about more than 100 migrants on Spanish charity Proactiva’s Open Arms ship, which Hollywood star Richard Gere boarded on Friday.
Norway’s minister of justice and immigration, Joran Kallmyr, said on public television that the migrants should be “transported back to Africa, either to Tunisia or Libya.”
“They should not be sent to Europe because then this action will be an extension of the refugee route instead of a rescue operation,” Kallmyr said.
Gere, who boarded the Open Arms on Friday, said he had just arrived from the nearby Italian island of Lampedusa.
“We brought as much water and as much food as we possibly can, for everybody on board,” he said.
“Everyone is doing OK now but they were on two boats on the ocean. One of the boats was turned back by the Libyan navy. We don’t know what happened to them.
“The most important thing for these people here is to be able to get to a free port, to be able to get off the boat, to start a new life for themselves.”
Salvini also commented on the American movie star saying he hopes Gere “gets a bit of a suntan.”