Another ship suspends migrant rescues citing Libyan threats

Defend Europe says it wants to

Defend Europe says it wants to"stop human trafficking in Mediterranean sea

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said on Saturday it was suspending its migrant rescues in the Mediterranean because it felt threatened by the Libyan coastguard and the Italian government's policies have made its job harder.

The suspension of rescue operations by Sea-Eye and MSF comes less than a week after a Spanish NGO, ProActiva, said two of its ships were chased away by Libyan coast guards.

On Thursday, Libya's UN-backed Government of National Accord announced an exclusion zone that would bar rescue boats from operating.

"Even if they were 13 nautical miles away, they were still within the premise of Libyan search and rescue operations". They also fear that migrants will be mistreated in Libyan detention centres if they are thwarted from leaving the North African country. But its doctors would continue to operate on the boat of another NGO, it said. Hundreds of thousands of rescued asylum-seekers, many of them fleeing poverty in Africa, have been brought to safety in Italian ports in recent years.

Nearly 600,000 migrants have arrived in Italy over the past four years, the vast majority setting sail from lawless Libya in flimsy vessels operated by people smugglers.

It supporters chartered a ship and launched a vigilante-style mission off the coast of Libya last month, with the intent of blocking migrants and taking on the dozen or so humanitarian organisations who pluck refugees and migrants from sinking boats and dinghies.

EU's Mediterranean migrant dilemma: Are aid groups providing a ferry service for human smugglers? According to United Nations data, over 95,000 migrants and refugees arrived in Italy by sea in 2017, while more than 2,350 refugees died in the sea. HOR army chief Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar has ordered air and naval units to confront any unauthorised foreign vessels in Libyan waters.

Sea Watch's founder, Michael Busch Heuer, announced it would suspend its rescue missions and accused Libya of issuing an "explicit threat" against NGOs in the area.

The chief prosecutor for the Sicilian port city of Catania, Carmelo Zuccaro, announced an investigation on April 25.

MSF's decision to halt its rescue operations was part of this positive process, he told the newspaper La Stampa.

Libyan authorities have accused charities of aiding human smugglers with their rescues at sea, hampering efforts to crack down on the illegal migration route. "We wish to establish a code of conduct that is built on governing law and mutual trust". Four NGOs have signed the code while four others, including MSF and Jugend Rettet, have not. "It would be absolutely unrealistic to ignore the seriousness of the challenge of irregular migration", Mr Salame said in August.

The interior ministry said 11,193 new arrivals had been registered in July, compared with 23,552 in July 2016.

However, MSF warned that without rescue boats, many more migrants may die at sea.

"We leave behind a deadly gap in the Mediterranean", Buschheuer warned.

Recommended News

We are pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news.
Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper.
Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.