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NGO: Italy tells us not to save migrants, gives task to Libyans

Europe
24.11.2017
By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Rome (dpa) - Italian authorities are telling non-governmental organizations (NGOs) not to rescue Mediterranean Sea migrants, assigning that task to Libyans, a charity group said Friday.

"Instructed to stand by as Libyan Coastguard & Navy coordinate interception of 3 rubber boats in distress in [international] waters," SOS Mediterranee tweeted.

Mathilde Auvillan, an SOS spokeswoman, said the NGO‘s Aquarius vessel spotted the migrants first, but was told to "stand by" by the Italian coastguard as rescue duties had been assigned to the Libyans.

The incident took place at around 30 nautical miles (55 kilometres) from the Libyan coast, east of Tripoli, she said. A Spanish helicopter, part of EU naval mission Eunavfor, monitored proceedings, she added.

An Italian coastguard spokeswoman said she was not aware of the incident. She added that the Italian coastguard coordinated the rescue of about 1,600 migrants on Wednesday and Thursday.

On Thursday, the Italian commander of Eunavfor, Rear Admiral Enrico Credendino, said Libyans were for the first time handling migrant rescue operations "autonomously," without giving details.

Empowering the Libyan coastguard and navy is part of EU efforts to stem migration flows, but these are controversial as migrants blocked or returned to Libya face detention and possible abuse.

SOS Mediterranee said it received similar no-intervention instructions on Thursday, but these were reversed "after a long wait" as the Libyan coastguard failed to show up.

Aquarius proceeded to rescue 108 people, including 16 women and 34 children, mostly from Eritrea, and recovered the body of a woman believed to have died prior to the sea journey.

 

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