Shots Allegedly Fired At Rescue Ship Attending Distress Call In Mediterranean
Reports indicate that shots were unexpectedly fired at a humanitarian vessel on Saturday after it responded to a distress call from a boat carrying approximately 80 migrants in the Mediterranean.
According to SOS Mediterranee, who operates the vessel, the Libyan coastguard – trained and funded by the European Union – threatened the crew by “firing gunshots into the air,” causing them to withdraw and all the migrants be taken back to Libyan soil.
🔴Shots fired during rescue operation!
Today we witnessed the attack on the crew of @SOSMedIntl and people in a boat in distress. After a distress call from @alarm_phone, our search plane Seabird, Ocean Viking, and a ship of the so-called Libyan Coast Guard were on the scene. pic.twitter.com/ulW33x447W
— Sea-Watch International (@seawatch_intl) March 25, 2023
This followed other hostile actions taken by the said coastguard in an attempt to limit migration in Europe, such as preventing an SOS Mediterranee boat from returning after a rescue mission in January of this year and even threatening to shoot down a monitoring plane belonging to German NGO Sea-Watch last year.
Ever since Libya descended into chaos – following NATO-backed upheaval that caused Moammar Gadhafi’s death back in 2011 – it has become a primary transit point for those seeking refuge or a better life in Europe, with human traffickers capitalizing on this political instability and smuggling migrants across Libya’s extended borders.
If legal paths leading into Europe were more established, however, these individuals would not be necessary.
According to figures from International Organization for Migration, crossing the Mediterranean is known as one of the most dangerous routes worldwide – with 26000 people gone missing or deceased since 2014 alone – yet migrant arrivals have grown astronomically during the first quarter of 2020 when compared with 2019; with 6500 people having been rescued last year compared to 20000 this year; including 180 people aboard Banksy’s Louise Michel ship out of Lampedusa just Friday.
Reference: Euro News, Yahoo