A sea rescue group sees Libyan authorities shooting at a crowded boat to prevent it from crossing the Mediterranean Sea to Europe.
A nonprofit sea rescue group slammed the Libyan coast guard after seeing Libyan maritime authorities chase a crowded migrant boat and shoot at it with the apparent aim of preventing it from crossing the Mediterranean Sea towards the sea. ‘Europe.
Members of the German non-governmental group Sea-Watch filmed the incident on Wednesday as they flew over the region on an observation mission.
“Those who shoot refugees and try to capsize their boats are not there to save them. The EU must immediately end cooperation with the so-called Libyan Coast Guard, ”Felix Weiss said in a group statement released with the video.
In the footage, shot from the plane, a blue wooden boat with a small engine and at least two dozen people on board is followed in circles at high speed by the Libyan Coast Guard.
During the pursuit, which took place in international waters under Malta’s search and rescue responsibility, uniformed men aboard the Libyan vessel can be seen shooting at the vessel at least twice, bullets hitting the water near the boat.
Yesterday #Seabirds witnessed a brutal attack by the so-called Libyan Coast Guard deep in the Maltese SAR zone. Our video shows: Shots were fired in the direction of the boat, the so-called Libyan Coast Guard attempted several times to hit the boat and threw objects at people. pic.twitter.com/0C2YSmcPoO
– Sea-Watch International (@seawatch_intl) July 1, 2021
The Libyan Coast Guard are dangerously close to hitting the boat several times.
Sea-Watch said it had communicated to Libyan authorities by radio that they were endangering the lives of people on board the blue ship and urged them to stop firing.
The Libyan Coast Guard responded in broken English that they were trying to rescue the migrants.
The Sea-Watch plane was out of fuel and turned around before the pursuit was over, the statement said. He later received reports that the boat had arrived on the Italian island of Lampedusa on Thursday morning.
There was no immediate comment on the incident from Libya, Malta or authorities in Lampedusa.
The European Union trains, equips and supports the Libyan Coast Guard to intercept people attempting to cross the central Mediterranean to Europe.
At least 723 people have died or gone missing while taking this route on boats in poor condition so far this year.
Nearly 15,000 men, women and children have been intercepted by the Libyan coast guard and returned to the Libyan coast since the start of the year until June 26, a record number.
More than 20,000 migrants and refugees have died trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea to Europe since 2014.
The stretch of the central Mediterranean between Italy and Libya has seen an increase in crossing attempts and deaths this year after a lull at the height of the pandemic.
With EU support, the Libyan Coast Guard stepped up interceptions of migrant boats, returning people on board to Libya.
But the UN and several other rights organizations have condemned their return to the war-torn country, where many are held in heinous detention centers at risk of abuse and torture.