The Ocean Viking, humanitarian ship of SOS Méditerranée, rescued 113 people in the Mediterranean Sea for its first operation since its docking in France in November after a diplomatic showdown between Paris and Rome, announced Tuesday the NGO in a statement.
Among them, "23 women, some of whom are pregnant, around thirty unaccompanied minors and three babies, the youngest of whom is only three weeks old", indicated SOS Méditerranée, whose headquarters are in Marseille, in the south-east of France.
The migrants were rescued overnight from Monday to Tuesday, in international waters dependent on the Maltese search and rescue area, close to the Libyan area, she added.
They were on "an overloaded black pneumatic boat, in total darkness", according to SOS Méditerranée.
They were cared for on board the ship by members of the NGO as well as the Red Cross and Red Crescent.
For the time being, the Ocean Viking “continues to patrol” and “it is still too early” to know where it will be able to disembark the rescued people, Meryl Sotty, spokesperson for SOS Méditerranée, told AFP.
In mid-November, the Ocean Viking had landed in Toulon, in the south-east of France, with 230 migrants rescued between Libya and Italy, after three weeks of wandering in search of a safe port.
The French government had agreed to welcome the boat "on an exceptional basis" after Italy's refusal caused diplomatic tensions between the two countries.
Placed in a closed "waiting area", most of the survivors had been released either by court order, or because they were unaccompanied minors, or because they had benefited from admission to France under the asylum.
Since the beginning of the year, 1,998 migrants have disappeared in the Mediterranean, including 1,369 in the central Mediterranean, the most dangerous migratory route in the world, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
Every year, thousands of people fleeing conflict or poverty try to reach Europe by crossing the Mediterranean from Libya, whose coasts are some 300 km from Italy.