The Ocean Viking, a humanitarian ship of SOS Mediterranee, has rescued 268 people since Thursday during five rescues of migrants mostly found in overcrowded wooden boats between Libya and Malta, the NGO announced Friday.
“Many have high levels of exhaustion and dehydration” and “severe sunburn,” said the NGO, whose headquarters are in Marseille.
Several minors, including unaccompanied minors, pregnant women and even a 3-week-old baby are now cared for by SOS Mediterranee and the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent on the Viking Ocean.
On Tuesday, the ship said it had spotted four empty boats in this area, including one without a motor. But “without communication from the maritime authorities, the fate of the people on board remains unknown,” the ship communicated.
Since the beginning of the year, 1,161 migrants have disappeared in the Mediterranean, including 918 in the central Mediterranean, the most dangerous migratory route in the world, according to the International Organization for Migration.
The U.N. agency estimated the number of dead and missing in 2021 at 2,048 in the Mediterranean, including 1,553 for the central Mediterranean alone.
Every year, thousands of people fleeing conflict or poverty attempt to reach Europe by crossing the Mediterranean from Libya, whose coasts are 300 kilometers from Italy.