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Save the Children Suspends Search, Rescue Operations in Mediterranean

© REUTERS / Stefano RellandiniMigrants wait to be rescued by "Save the Children" NGO crew in the Mediterranean sea off Libya coast, June 18, 2017.
Migrants wait to be rescued by Save the Children NGO crew in the Mediterranean sea off Libya coast, June 18, 2017. - Sputnik International
International non-governmental organization Save the Children announced on Sunday, it called back its search and rescue ship from the Mediterranean to Malta, as Libya's navy banned foreign vessels from entering coastal "search and rescue zone" for Europe-bound migrants.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Earlier in the day, German non-commercial organization Sea Eye also suspended its operations in the Mediterranean, and on Saturday, the Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres, MSF) international humanitarian group announced putting its search and rescue activity of its biggest ship in the Mediterranean Sea on hold.

"It is with deep regret that we have been forced to pause our Search and Rescue operation in the Mediterranean, as a result of issues raised by the Libyan Navy, which pose uncertainty for our response. The Vos Hestia [the organization’s search and rescue ship] remains on standby and ready to respond, once vital safety and security assurances are in place," the NGO said in a statement, adding that the ship was now headed for Malta to dock there while the organization assesses the "safety implications."

Migrants on wooden boat being rescued by Save the Children NGO crew from the ship Vos Hestia in the Mediterranean sea off Libya coast, June 18, 2017 - Sputnik International
'Sea Eye' German NGO Suspends Migrant Rescue Missions in Mediterranean After MSF
The humanitarian organization stressed that it was ready to deploy the vessel to the rescue zone once the safety of the team and the viability of the rescue mission were ensured.

"We need to have these assurances in place, before we can continue with the rescue mission as intended. The safety of our staff and crew is paramount and without assurances we would have to consider the possibility of a suspension – an outcome none of our staff or crew want to face," operation director of Save the Children Rob MacGillivray said, as quoted in the statement.

On August 2, the Italian parliament overwhelmingly approved conducting a joint naval operation with the Libyan coastguard to prevent migrants' boats from leaving the country.

According to the latest UN data, in 2017 alone, over 95,000 migrants arrived in Italy from across the Mediterranean, with 2,350 having died in the sea.

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