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Masked men board migrant boat during rescue operation off Libyan coast

A masked men on a migrant boat (L), migrants fleeing (center) towards the rescue vessel of NGO SOS Mediterranée and rescue personnel (R), in the Mediterranean on July 7, 2024.   -  
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Charles Thiefaine/AP

Mediterranean Sea

Footage released by a non-governmental organisation showed migrants diving from a wooden dinghy into the Mediterranean on Tuesday (Jul. 09) after masked people began boarding from another boat.

The video was shot from a rescue boat sent by the SOS Méditerranée humanitarian organisation.

It said that among those rescued were four women and three children.

" During the rescue operation two unidentified boats came over, two armed people with covered faces boarded the wooden boat, generating panic among the shipwrecked people who started throwing themselves into the water. Our crew promptly rescued them, but one of them then, once on board the Ocean Viking, collapsed," Valeria Taurino, General Director of SOS Mediterranee sai.

Two of the masked people then sailed away in the wooden dinghy.

The AP was not able to immediately verify who they were. SOS Méditerranée decries growing insecurity stemming from the lack of rescue vessels.

The lack of rescue vessels left by the states (countries) in recent years in the central Mediterranean has generated an increase in the presence of armed (people) and the illegal and dangerous actions towards both the fleeing shipwrecked people and aid workers.

New constraints imposed by local authorities hinder rescuers on the Mediterranean. Italy notably refuses to issue docking permission to rescue boats or designates docking ports that are far away from rescue areas.

Also on Tuesday, another SOS Méditerranée vessel, Ocean Viking, helped rescue a further 27 people who were in distress at sea, according to the charity.

On Sunday (Jul. 07), the humanitarian organisation Sea-Eye carried out five rescue missions in the span of 24 hours, saving 231 people, the charity said.

Many of those rescued were being transported to Italy by the rescue charities.

So far in 2024, 884 migrants have died at sea including 48 children, according to the United Nations International Organisation for Migration (IOM).