The 92 migrants and refugees were traveling in an “overloaded and deflated” inflatable boat in the Mediterranean. As the private aid organization SOS Méditerranée further announced in the short message service Twitter, nine women and around 40 unaccompanied minors were among the rescued. Some of the people rescued suffered fuel burns and other injuries. Those admitted would be cared for on board the “Ocean Viking” by SOS Méditerranée and a Red Cross team. Several rescued would have to be transported on stretchers and provided with thermal blankets.
The Italian authorities had instructed the “Ocean Viking” to approach the port in Salerno in southern Italy, the non-governmental organization said. Salerno is about 450 nautical miles (a good 830 kilometers) away from the rescue site. As the weather is forecast to deteriorate, SOS Méditerranée fears that “the rather long crossing will affect the fragile condition of those rescued”.
Often assigned to distant ports
A new law passed by the Italian government under the ultra-right Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni stipulates that ships must head straight for a specified port after an operation. The authorities often assign the helpers to distant ports. Sea rescue organizations warn that this shortens the time in the operational areas.
According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the route across the central Mediterranean is the most dangerous escape route in the world. The IOM estimates that at least 1,417 people died on this journey to Europe last year.
Italy took almost 30,000 people this year
In the current year, the number of migrants and refugees arriving in Italy via the Mediterranean has roughly quadrupled. In the first three months of 2023, the Ministry of the Interior in Rome registered 27,280 adults and children, in the first quarter of 2022 there were 6,832 arrivals.
se/sti (afp, epd, kna)