Migrant rescue charity SOS Méditerranée has resumed operations off the coast of Libya with a new ship, after the last one was forced to stop its work by European governments.
Its new vessel, the Ocean Viking, is flying the Norwegian flag.
The crew of 31 includes nine health workers from the charity’s partners, Medecins Sans Frontières (MSF).
SOS Méditerranée suspended operations by its previous vessel, the Aquarius, after it was denied entry to Italy.
- Italy shuts migrant camp and tightens sea rules
- Children among seven dead as boat sinks in Greece
- Dozens drown trying to reach Europe
Thousands of migrants attempt to cross the Mediterranean to Europe every year, and Libya is a key departure point. Those who make the journey often travel in poorly maintained and overcrowded vessels, and many have died.
But since mid-2017, the number of migrant journeys has declined dramatically. The decline is largely due to efforts by Italy and other EU countries to encourage Libya to stop migrants from crossing the Mediterranean – a policy condemned by human rights organisations.