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Catalan NGO rescue boat with three migrants not allowed to disembark

Libyan coastguard patrol threatens to shoot waiting Proactiva Open Arms ship 

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08 August 2017 06:01 PM

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ACN | Barcelona

Catalan NGO Proactiva Open Arms reported on Tuesday that Italy had not allowed three migrants to disembark from one of their rescue boats for more than two days. According to the organization, the lifeguards on the ship had rescued three Libyans in the Mediterranean after having been asked for help by the Italian authorities. However, while waiting in international waters for permission to disembark, a Libyan coastguard patrol warned the NGO boat by shooting into the air and threatening them.

Libyan coastguard accuses the NGO of "dealing with smugglers"

The Libyan coastguard accused the NGO of “conducting suspicious activities” and also of “dealing with smugglers” as video footage shared by Proactiva Open Arms shows. “Next time you will be targeted,” the patrol added. The Libyans told the rescue boat captain not to get any closer to Libyan waters and said that they had been monitoring the NGO over the previous two days.  

  • "Next time you will be targeted"

    Libyan coastguard patrol to a Proactiva Open Arms boat

The incident occurred after the boat was denied permission to disembark in both Italy and Malta. According to Head of Mission Albert Mayordomo in an interview with the magazine 5W, the Rescue Coordination Center in Rome asked his ship, Golfo Azzurro, to look for a fiber migrant boat in international waters on Saturday night. Proactiva Open Arms rescued the boat with three Libyan migrants 17 hours later, but the Coordination Center then told them to disembark in Malta. The tiny country in the Mediterranean, though, sent them back to Italy, which again rejected the request. Golfo Azzurro is still waiting for a solution in international waters, more than 48 hours after rescuing the migrants.

Proactiva Open Arms founder expresses his anger

Proactiva Open Arms founder, Òscar Camps, said in a tweet yesterday that the Libyan coastguard patrol was “trained and funded with EU money”. He also noted that the European Parliament had awarded his NGO the 2015 European Citizen’s Prize last year to promote the foundational values of the Union. “Now it seems like we are a big problem,” he added. Other prizes won by the organization based in Badalona, Catalonia, include the Olof Palme Medal 2017 and the HERO Awards International, given by the International Maritime Rescue Federation. 

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  • Proactiva Open Arms' Golfo Azzurro boat (Photo: Proactiva Open Arms)

  • Proactiva Open Arms' Golfo Azzurro boat (Photo: Proactiva Open Arms)