Libyan Coast Guard attacks German NGO rescuing migrants

Libyan Coast Guard attacks German NGO rescuing migrants in the Mediterranean Sea

  • Published on
    March 3, 2024
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  • Category:
    Human Trafficking, Law & Policy
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SOS Humanity, a German charity operating a rescue ship in the Mediterranean Sea, is accusing the Libyan Coast Guard of attacking their ship, the Humanity 1, during a rescue operation.

They claim that the Coast Guard resorted to violence and intimidation tactics, including firing live bullets into the water. This aggressive intervention, according to SOS Humanity, led to a life-threatening situation, forcing desperate migrants aboard unseaworthy vessels to leap into the treacherous waters, tragically resulting in at least one suspected death.

Italy continues to choose human rights abuses over protection

To make matters worse, once the Humanity 1 docked in Italy to disembark the rescued migrants, Italian authorities seized the ship without explanation.

Captain Leo of the Humanity 1 said in a statement, “The Italian authorities attempted to justify the arrest of the Humanity 1 on the grounds that the Humanity 1 would have caused a dangerous situation for the people in distress at sea. In fact, it was the so-called Libyan Coast Guard, financed by the EU, who endangered the lives of the people in the water and our rescue crew.”

Italian authorities make it a habit of penalizing vessels that do not comply with recent regulations, including heading directly to port without rescuing additional people and assigning ports very far north, begging the question: what is Italy’s priority?

It’s clearly not protecting people from violence, drowning, or trafficking.

Samy Magdy for the Associated Press reports,

According to the IOM’s Missing Migrants Project, at least 962 migrants were reported dead and 1,563 missing off Libya in 2023. Around 17,200 migrants were intercepted and returned to Libya last year.

Those who are intercepted and returned to Libya are held in government-run detention centers rife with abuses, including forced labor, beatings, rapes and torture — practices that amount to crimes against humanity, according to U.N.-commissioned investigators.

The E.U.’s role in perpetuating forced labor and other abuses

Since 2015, the European Union has been providing funding to the Libyan Coast Guard to curb the flow of migrants from North Africa to Italian shores. Under this arrangement, the coast guard intercepts migrants in both Libyan and international waters – by any means necessary – returning them to Libya.

This is not the first reported attack on rescue operations by the Coast Guard – nor will it be the last.

SOS Humanity asserts that “Threatening crew members of search-and-rescue vessels and risking the lives of people in need of protection is a gross violation of international law.”

Join the movement  

Together with other activists and organizations, we’re making it clear to the European Union that we won’t stand for its complicity in modern slavery.

We cannot let the E.U. and member states continue to prop up this horrific system just to stem new arrivals. Join the fight today. 


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2 months ago

I signed but I have different options for this mess of trafficking and terrible situation. We must stop terrorists teams in Somalia Libya Sudan Nigeria their racistic crimes against Christians or other races so these poor people will stay in their country and not this Othoman slavery in 2024. We cannot take millions ppl (impossible practically)that suffer under terror. But we can make resistance and give them power to help them in their countries.

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