Pregnant women among nearly 200 migrants rescued off Libya
Pregnant women and scores of minors were among 196 migrants rescued off the coast of Libya on Saturday by a vessel operated by French NGO SOS Mediterranee.
The Ocean Viking first picked up 57 people in an inflatable dinghy struggling in international waters off the North African country, SOS Mediterranee said.
In the afternoon, the ship's crew carried out two additional rescues in the same area, plucking 54 people from a dinghy and 64 others from a wooden vessel.
In their latest operation, they saved 21 people from a wooden vessel.
The total rescued included at least two pregnant women and 33 minors, 22 of them unaccompanied.
According to the International Organisation for Migration, at least 1,146 people have died at sea trying to reach Europe during the first half of 2021.
SOS Mediterranee says it has rescued more than 30,000 people since February 2016, first with the ship Aquarius, then with Ocean Viking.
SOS Mediterranee accuses European Union governments of neglecting coordinated search-and-rescue action to discourage migrants from attempting the crossing from war-torn Libya, where they are often victims of organised crime and militia violence.
Libyan authorities are also accused of forcibly returning intercepted ships to Libya, even when they are in European waters.
A UN Human Rights Office report in late May urged Libya and the EU to overhaul their rescue operations, saying existing policies "fail to prioritise the lives, safety and human rights" of people attempting to cross from Africa.