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Suicide attempts, fights engulf rescue boat carrying 180 migrants

作者:admin 2020-07-05

Six migrants on board a rescue ship in the Mediterranean Sea tried to kill themselves and others have gotten into fights and threatened fellow passengers and crew members in growing desperation over their inability to find a country willing to take them in.

SOS Mediterranee, which operates the Ocean Viking, said in a statement the ship carrying 180 migrants declared a state of emergency to stress the deteriorating situation on board as the crew renews its appeals for safe harbour.

"This is an unprecedented step in the history of SOS MEDITERRANEE, triggered first and foremost by the rapid deterioration of the mental health of some of the survivors on board, particularly among a group of 44 people," the charity said in a statement.

"The 44 people who we requested assistance for are in a state of acute mental distress, expressed intentions to inflict harm both on themselves and on others, including members of the crew, and expressed suicidal ideas."

The charity said it lodged seven requests for permission to enter a port, and said it had received a negative response from Italy and Malta after its first request for a port, and no replies to its six subsequent requests.

Meanwhile, Italy responded with the telephone number of a psychologist, the group said.   

? UPDATE: Following the declaration of a State of Emergency onboard the #OceanViking, the Italian maritime authorities informed us of an upcoming visit of a psychological doctor onboard. We are still waiting for this visit and recall that survivors should disembark immediately. pic.twitter.com/wKBJ2VRQdj

— SOS MEDITERRANEE (@SOSMedIntl) July 3, 2020

There were no immediate government responses from either country about the alleged refusals.

The migrants were rescued from the unseaworthy boats of people smugglers in the central Mediterranean during four operations between June 25 and June 30.

SOS Mediterranee said the first operation took place in international waters where Italy and Malta have overlapping rescue jurisdiction, while the other rescues occurred in Malta's search-and-rescue area.

'I don't feel safe' 

The people rescued include a pregnant woman and 25 minors, 17 of them travelling without relatives or guardians, the charity said.

The migrants, which include Pakistanis, North Africans, Eritreans, Nigerians and others, were picked up after fleeing Libya in four separate rescues by the Ocean Viking.

In addition to threatening to harm themselves or others, some of the passengers have started fighting among themselves, it said.

SOS Mediterranee said two migrants jumped overboard in what the organisation said appeared to be suicide attempts and were rescued from the sea again, while three others were stopped before they plunged off the ship. It reported that another passenger tried to kill himself on board, the charity said.

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