German charity ship rescues 64 migrants off Libya

German charity ship rescues 64 migrants off Libya
German charity Sea Watch's Alan Kurdi ship, named after the three-year-old Syrian refugee boy who drowned in the Mediterranean, rescued 64 migrants off the coast of Libya.
2 min read
04 April, 2019
Charities regularly accuse Libya of failing to rescue migrants at sea [AFP/Getty]
A German charity rescue ship picked up 64 migrants, including women and children, who were stranded off Libya while trying to cross the Mediterranean and enter Europe.

The Watch the Med association said it received a call for help from the stricken inflatable at around 0830 GMT on Wednesday.

"The authorities were unreachable," Watch the Med said of the Libyan coastguard charged with search and rescue operations in the zone off Zouara.

Charities frequently accuse the Libyan authorities of failing to rescue migrants.

Instead, German charity Sea-Watch's Alan Kurdi rescue vessel, named after a Syrian boy whose body washed up on a Turkish beach in 2015, went to rescue the migrants.

"They're all safe and sound on board our vessel," Sea-Eye said, "The Libyan coastguard is not answering or rescuing".

Italy's far right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini made his oft-stated hardline position on immigration crystal clear Wednesday on evening.

"A German-registered vessel, a German NGO, a German ship owner and a skipper from Hamburg - best it heads for Hamburg," said Salvini.

Italy's tough line on the issue has seen many boats that pick up migrants journeying across the Mediterranean increasingly return them to chaos-wracked Libya.

But there they face trafficking, kidnap, torture and rape, according to the United Nations and aid groups.

Watch the Med said it had received distress calls from two other vessels which had left Libya in recent days with a total of 91 people aboard.

The Italian coastguard said Tuesday they had information on the second of the two and had passed on the information to their Libyan counterparts.

But according to the International Migration Organisation (OIM) there was "still no news" of either, despite the Alan Kurdi vessel spending several days searching the zone.

"Sadly, that confirms the search and rescue capacities in the Mediterranean have dropped and must be ratcheted up," OIM spokesman Flavio Di Giacomo said.

The EU announced last week it will suspend ship patrols that have been rescuing tens of thousands of migrants in the Mediterranean and bringing them to safety in Italy. The step has been taken following deep resistance by populist-led Italian government.

Sea-Eye says it has saved more than 14,000 people from drowning in the Mediterranean in more than 60 missions since it started operating in 2016.

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