Subject: MV Ocean Viking request Place of Safety
As communicated yesterday (see message below), and as detailed in the MIR reports previously sent, MV Ocean Viking conducted three rescue operations, on the 21st and 22nd of January 2021, of a total of 374 people in distress.
The operations took place in international waters, in the Libyan SRR, in the strictest adherence to the UNCLOS, SOLAS and SAR conventions.
All operations were conducted with due information of Tripoli JRCC but at no point during the 2 days was there any response or acknowledgment to any of our email communications, nor any answer to our previous requests for a Place of Safety.
Due to the lack of instructions from competent maritime authorities and the fact that Ocean Viking cannot disembark survivors in Libya (within the framework of the relevant Conventions and Regulations, the European Commission and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees issued clear positions stating that currently Libya does not meet the criteria for being designated as a place of safety for the purpose of disembarkation following rescue at sea (https://www.refworld.org/docid/5b8d02314.html)), yesterday evening, Ocean Viking has requested assistance for a Place of Safety to MRCC Roma and RCC Malta.
We understand that the 373 survivors now on board MV Ocean Viking (one lady has been medevac’d today with prompt assistance from Italian Coastguard) were rescued in a sea area that is outside of the SRRs of Italy and Malta, hence not under primary responsibility of IT MRCC and RCC Malta.
Please note that, before escalating the request to IT MRCC and RCC Malta, Ocean Viking has already exhausted the steps in relation to the competent authorities of the Libyan SRR.
Recalling the provisions of Chapter 3 of the SAR Convention, Ocean Viking kindly invites the RCCs to co-operate with those other RCCs they consider able to assist, to make the necessary arrangements to identify the most appropriate place for disembarking these 373 persons found in distress at sea as soon as reasonably possible.
The 373 rescued people on board the Ocean Viking include 1 pregnant woman, 21 babies between 0 and 4 years old, 32 children between 5 and 15 years old and 32 single females travellers..
Many people on board have been victims of various forms of abuse during their journey to Libya and while being held in Libya.
The situation on board, with limited space coupled with the weather conditions, is negatively affecting the people’s mental and physical well-being.
We also would like to recall that this vessel has kindly requested information and instructions regarding 3 further distress alerts received today (please refer to my message dated 2021 01 23 – 1645Z).
While waiting for further instructions from you or those RCCs you would consider able to assist, Ocean Viking at 2033Z is in POS 35 19.6N 013 31.9E