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 stated.
The coast guard vessel “dangerously” approached the rescue ship, threatening its crew “with weapons and firing gunshots within the air,” the SOS Mediterranee stated in a press release.
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 charge of pace earlier than maneuvering, apparently to forestall the Ocean Viking from reaching the migrant boat. At one level, gun photographs are heard.
“You’ll be able to’t shoot at us. You’ll be able to’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 stated.
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 most recent 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 forestall an SOS Mediterranee quick boast from returning to the Ocean Viking after a rescue operation, in accordance with the group. The boat managed to return the rescued migrants to the mom vessel safely, it stated.
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 stream of migrants from the North African nation in the direction of Italian shores.
Libya has in recent times emerged because the dominant transit level for migrants looking 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.
Up to now this yr, 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 accordance with Inside Ministry figures.
Over the weekend alone, an estimated 3,000 migrants — many departing on small boats from Tunisia’s coastal metropolis of Sfax — have been rescued within the Mediterranean and have been heading towards Italian ports to disembark, in accordance with humanitarian rescue teams and information reviews.
In the meantime, the Louise Michel rescue ship, which is financed by the road artist Banksy, stated the vessel was detained Friday in waters off the Italian island of Lampedusa after it rescued 180 individuals in three separate operations. Thirty-four have been plucked from the water after their boat capsized.
“We nonetheless should not have an official written justification for the detention. We all know of dozens of boats in misery proper in entrance of the island at this very second, but we’re being prevented from helping. That is unacceptable!” The Louise Michel stated in a tweet Sunday.
In latest months, The hard-line Italian authorities of Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has made it tougher for humanitarian vessels to function, typically assigning ships to ports farther north after a single rescue, which the teams say limits their potential to avoid wasting lives.
Meloni’s allies say the presence of so many rescue ships within the Mediterranean encourages migrants to threat their lives on smuggler boats.
Related Press author Nicole Winfield in Rome contributed.