Sat, Nov 11, 2017 - Page 14 News List

Migrants lose lives in rescue gone wrong

A member of German NGO Sea-Watch, left, helps a migrant to board a boat after he was recovered in the Mediterranean Sea on Nov. 6. During a shipwreck, five people died, including a newborn child.

Photo: AFP

Five migrants, including a young child, died Monday as result of a “violent, reckless” and “illegal” intervention by Libya’s coastguard in a rescue in international waters, a German charity group has said.

Sea Watch, one of several NGOs that operate search-and-rescue boats in the Mediterranean, said the lives had been lost needlessly because of heavy handed tactics of a coastguard being trained and financed by the European Union.

The German charity said its boat Sea-Watch 3 had been sent early Monday to the aid of a sinking dinghy by Italy’s coastguard and had arrived at the scene around the same time as a Libyan patrol boat.

According to the NGO, the Libyans began “beating and threatening” the migrants on the stricken boat, provoking panic that caused some to fall overboard.

The patrol boat then tried to move off with people still clinging to its sides, prompting the intervention of an Italian navy helicopter to try to calm the situation.

Sea Watch said the rescue had taken place 30 nautical miles north of Tripoli, well outside Libyan territorial waters.

In response, the Libyan coastguard accused Sea Watch of causing “panic and confusion” among the migrants.

The Libyan vessel took an unknown number of migrants back to the North African state while 58 survivors were on board the Sea-Watch 3.

Some 2,500 migrants have been rescued and brought to Italy so far this month.












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