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EU-supported Libyan coastguard threatens to shoot at refugee rescuers

Despite threats NGO ship and reconnaissance plane work together to save the lives of 69 people in the central Mediterranean

THE EU-supported Libyan coastguard threatened to shoot at rescue workers in the central Mediterranean today after they witnessed a refugee interception.

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) shared video footage from its rescue ship, the Geo Barents, on social media this afternoon showing the Libyan coastguard’s dangerous behaviour.

The clip shows a Libyan coastguard vessel next to a smaller boat in the distance. A member of the Geo Barent’s crew spots that a person has fallen into the sea.

Another crew member calls the Libyan vessel and says: “Libyan coastguard, this is Geo Barents, there is one person jumped in the water.”

The Libyans respond, saying: “Stay away [you] daughter of [a] whore, prostitutes.

“Stay away from the area … or you will get exposed to gun fire.”

Episode 39: A hostile environment for refugees The Civil Fleet Podcast

In today's episode we speak with filmmaker Sonita Gale, about her award-winning documentary film Hostile.    Sonita tells us how Britain's "hostile environment" stretches much further back than 2012, when then home secretary Theresa May coined the term, and is rooted in the British Empire.    We hear how successive governments — both Labour and Conservative — have created an inhumane system for migrants and refugees in the UK and how this has affected the people in her film.    She also tells us how these dehumanising policies lead to the Windrush Scandal, and how they link with the NHS crisis, workers' rights, poverty, and the government's anti-protest laws.     —Get in touch— Twitter: @FleetCivil Mastodon:   Support:   —Show Notes—   For more on Sonita Gale's documentary, see here:   If you're in the UK, you can watch the film online here:   If you're outside the UK, then check here for more information on how to watch it:    See the trailer for Hostile here:    You can follow Hostile on Twitter here: @hostiledoc   And follow Hostile on Instagram here:   For anyone outside the UK that doesn't know what the Home Office is, it is similar to the Ministry of the Interior in much of Europe, or the Department for Homeland Security in the US.    The head of the UK Home Office (called the Home Secretary) is Suella Braverman. Before her, it was Priti Patel. Both are mentioned in the podcast.    Liz Truss, Boris Johnson, Theresa May and David Cameron were all former Conservative Prime Ministers. Members of the Conservative party are often referred to as Tories, and the party as The Tory Party.    Theresa May was the Home Secretary in 2012. She coined the term Hostile Environment in 2012. You can read more about that, and the 10-year anniversary of it, here:     Ben and Sonita mention Enoch Powell and his Rivers of Blood speech. You can read more about him and his infamous speech here:   Here's a good explanation of the Police, Crime and Sentencing Bill and why it is so dangerous by the human rights organisation Liberty:     For more on the No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) policy, see the NRPF Network, here:   Here is a good explanation of the Windrush Scandal by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants:    The Noam Chomsky quote at the end of the film is this: "As long as the general population is passive, apathetic, diverted to consumerism or hatred of the vulnerable, then the powerful can do as they please, and those who survive will be left to contemplate the outcome.”   The Chomsky quote that Ben (mis)quotes (again!) is this: “If you assume that there’s no hope, you guarantee there will be no hope. If you assume that there is an instinct for freedom, there are opportunities to change things.”
  1. Episode 39: A hostile environment for refugees
  2. Episode 38: ‘The Illegal Migration Bill is truly horrific’
  3. Episode 37: Free The El Hiblu 3 – Teenagers accused of terrorism for translating
  4. Episode 36: Defending the Iuventa 4 refugee rescuers
  5. Episode 35: Sentenced to 142-years for doing ‘what any human would do’

MSF said: “Many survivors have told us in the past that interceptions were violent and that they would rather die than be taken back to the cycle of abuse in Libya where they would face inhuman treatment again.

“Intercepting, forcibly returning people to Libya and threatening the civil fleet is unfortunately a common practice in the Central Mediterranean, with the support from Italy and the EU.

“Do you approve of this behaviour by the ‘responsible authorities’? We don’t. It is not acceptable.”

Fellow rescue organisation Sea-Watch announced today that it’s reconnaissance plane, Seabird 2, has finally returned to the skies after a 10-month blockade.

“Our crew left early in the morning for a flight that hadn’t happened like this since March 2022,” Sea-Watch said.

“We could not fly in the Libyan search-and-rescue zone for almost a year, a time in which the so-called Libyan coastguard and other militias brutally abducted people back to Libya unseen, a time in which human rights abuses and distress cases went undocumented.

“Our aerial reconnaissance over the central Mediterranean is essential. It needs a civilian eye over the place where so much else goes down.

“We are flying again and will continue to do.”

Together, the Geo Barents and the Seabird 2 saved the lives of 69 people, including 25 minors, from an overcrowded rubber boat today.

“Despite witnessing multiple interceptions by the Libyan coastguard this morning, we successfully performed the rescue,” MSF said.

“We will continue to provide assistance and care to people in distress at sea and we will never accept additional drowning tragedies.”

Top image shows MSF rescuers aboard a Rhib [Pic: MSF]

Published by The Civil Fleet

A news blog and podcast focused on the activist-led refugee rescue and support missions across Fortress Europe

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