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Woman loses unborn child after Libya Coast Guard terrorises migrant ship

November 1, 2023 at 11:35 am

Sea-Eye rescue organisation is rescuing migrants on October 27, 2023 [@seaeyeorg/X]

The Libyan Coast Guard on Friday harassed an inflatable boat carrying around 50 irregular migrants, causing panic which led to people falling into the water, Sea-Eye rescue organisation has reported.

In footage released by the group, Libyan officials can be seen performing dangerous manoeuvres in the immediate vicinity of the dinghy, which is full of people. A pregnant woman is now fighting for her life as a result of the incident.

“The captain of the Libyan coast guard vessel dangerously pursued and harassed the rubber boat while his crew simultaneously stood by the railing smoking cigarettes and filming on their mobile phones. This has nothing whatsoever to do with sea rescue,” says Jan Ribbeck, head of mission of Sea-Eye e.V.As a result, a number of people fell into the water and at least four people lost their lives.

Sea-Eye said it have been informed that the SEA-EYE 4 vessel will be held in administrative detention of 20 days and fined around €3,000 ($3,165) by Italy, because its captain failed to comply with ordered from the Libyan Coast Guard to leave the area where the dinghy was located.

“If the SEA-EYE 4 had left the sea area, even more people would have died and no one would have known about this tragedy,” Jan Ribbeck, director of mission at Sea-Eye, said.

Sea-Eye rescuers said they had repeatedly requested the Italian Maritime Rescue Centre for an urgent medical evacuation. Each time, however, Italy referred Sea-Eye to Libya’s Maritime Distress Control Centre and Italy’s telemedicine service for assistance.

Ribbeck added that he was appalled that Italy forced the humanitarian aid group to deal with “failed state” Libya – instead of sending help.

When Libya failed to respond, the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre in Rome eventually instructed the SEA-EYE 4 to head for Lampedusa.

“The journey took another eight hours. If a crew member had been affected himself, surely they would not have demanded that the affected person be evacuated to Tripoli or remain on the ship for eight more hours. This is where a distinction is made that needs to be named for what it is: racism,” Chairman of Sea Eye, Gorden Isler, said. Italian journalists reported that the woman lost her unborn child. “Immediate action by the Italian authorities might have led to a different outcome,” Isler continues.

READ: Turkiye nabs 29 irregular migrants in Aegean Sea