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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 34: Europe's ‘black sites’ & secret asylum-seeker pushbacks on commercial ships The Civil Fleet Podcast

In today's episode, we speak with Klaas van Dijken, one of the co-founders of the investigative journalism organisation Lighthouse Reports.  Klaas talks to us about two recent investigations he and his team worked on: • How asylum seekers are held in secret prisons on commercial ships to facilitate illegal pushbacks from Italy to Greece, and • How refugees are being arbitrarily detained and tortured at secret facilities along EU borders before being illegally forced back across borders. —Get in touch— Twitter: @FleetCivil Mastodon: @civilfleet@kolektiva.social info@civilfleet.com Support:  ko-fi.com/civilfleet —Show Notes— Lighthouse Reports website can be found here: lighthousereports.nl To read the two stories discussed in this episode, see here:  • Detained below deck: bit.ly/3R97fVF • Europe’s Black Sites: bit.ly/3HAlY8H  Find Lighthouse Reports on Twitter here: @LHreports Here's a BBC news story from 2014 on the ECHR ruling on Italy's practice of sending people back to Greece: bbc.in/3DjDMT9   What is the Dublin Agreement? Read this explainer by InfoMigrants: bit.ly/3WQj9oI Here's a report from The Brussels Times on the new Frontex chief Hans Leijtens saying the agency needs to "restore trust": bit.ly/408AUlH  Klaas mentions a report Lighthouse published on Frontex's involvement in illegal pushbacks. You can read that here: bit.ly/3XGhtPv  Ben mentions the 200 missing asylum seekers children in Britain. Read about that here: bit.ly/3DjeB3d  Klaas briefly mentions No Name Kitchen. Find out more about them here: nonamekitchen.org and/or check out episode 6 of The Civil Fleet podcast
  1. Episode 34: Europe's ‘black sites’ & secret asylum-seeker pushbacks on commercial ships
  2. Episode 33: Preventing pushbacks at the Lithuania-Belarus border
  3. Episode 32: Manston: Britain's overcrowded and unsafe migrant detention camp
  4. Episode 31: Kept at sea as food and water run low
  5. Episode 30: A new ship, same old problems

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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