Group says Libyan coast guard fired photographs over rescue ship



CAIRO — Libya’s coast guard fired warning photographs over a humanitarian vessel because it tried to rescue a rubber boat carrying migrants off Libya’s coast, a sea rescue group mentioned. The coast guard went on to return some 80 Europe-bound migrants to Libyan soil.

The incident Saturday in worldwide waters was the newest reckless sea interception of migrants by the Libyan coast guard, which is educated and financed by the European Union to stem the inflow of migrants to Europe, mentioned the SOS Mediterranee group, whose vessel was warned off by the coast guard.

A spokesman for the coast guard didn’t reply to a request for remark.

The Ocean Viking, a rescue ship chartered and run by the non-profit SOS Mediterranee, was responding to a misery name to assist the rubber boat carrying migrants within the Mediterranean Sea when a Libyan coast guard vessel arrived on the scene, the group mentioned.

The coast guard vessel “dangerously” approached the rescue ship, threatening its crew “with weapons and firing gunshots within the air,” the SOS Mediterranee mentioned in an announcement.

The coast guard was caught on digital camera threatening the vessel and firing a weapon into the air. Within the footage, the coast guard vessel is seen touring at a excessive fee of velocity earlier than maneuvering, apparently to stop the Ocean Viking from reaching the migrant boat. At one level, gun photographs are heard.

“You may’t shoot at us. You may’t shoot at us. We’re leaving the waters now,” an individual on the Ocean Viking is head saying.

Beneath threats, the Ocean Viking sailed away whereas the Libyan coast guard intercepted the boat and “forcibly” took the migrants again to war-wrecked Libya, it mentioned.

Seabird 2, a civil surveillance aircraft owned by the German non-governmental group Sea-Watch, reported seeing migrants who had fallen overboard from the rubber boat earlier than the coast guard recovered them.

Saturday’s incident was the newest report from European NGOs working within the Mediterranean Sea of threats or violent habits by the Libyan coast guard.

The coast guard tried in January to stop an SOS Mediterranee quick boast from returning to the Ocean Viking after a rescue operation, in line with the group. The boat managed to return the rescued migrants to the mom vessel safely, it mentioned.

In October, the Sea-Watch accused the Libyan coast guard of threatening to shoot down their monitoring aircraft, Seabird.

The Libyan coast guard is educated and financed by the European Union, a part of efforts to stem the movement of migrants from the North African nation in direction of Italian shores.

Libya has in recent times emerged because the dominant transit level for migrants searching for a greater high quality of life in Europe. The oil-rich nation plunged into chaos following a NATO-backed rebellion that toppled and killed longtime autocrat Moammar Gadhafi in 2011.

Human traffickers have benefited from the chaos in Libya, smuggling in migrants throughout the nation’s prolonged borders with six nations. The migrants are then packed into ill-equipped rubber boats and different vessels and set off on dangerous sea voyages.

To this point this 12 months, some 20,000 migrants have arrived in Italy, far exceeding the 6,000 who got here in the identical interval in every of the previous years, in line with Inside Ministry figures.

Over the weekend alone, an estimated 3,000 migrants, many leaving on small boats from Tunisia’s coastal metropolis of Sfax, had been rescued within the Mediterranean and had been heading towards Italian ports to disembark, in line with humanitarian rescue teams and information stories.

Related Press author Nicole Winfield in Rome contributed.


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