The NGO Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) condemned this Tuesday that Libyan coast guard agents threatened to shoot the crew of the Geo Barents ship as they tried to rescue a group of migrants on board in international Mediterranean waters.
“Get away, you sons of bitches. Leave the area or you will be shot,” Libyan agents are heard saying in a phone recording released by a French non-governmental organization.
In a clip of the call released, one of the MSF volunteers warns Libyan authorities that a man has jumped into the sea.
“The MSF team on board the Geo Barents witnessed the Libyan Coast Guard turning back a vessel in distress in international waters,” MSF explained.
This is not the first time that NGOs carrying out boat rescues in the central Mediterranean have received threats from the Libyan coast guard.
In October last year, the non-governmental organization Sea Watch said that the Libyan coast guard threatened to launch missiles at a plane from which it was controlling a boat with 70 people on board and which it was preparing to rescue.
Earlier, in 2021, the prosecutor’s office in Agrigento (Sicily, southern Italy) launched an investigation into an attack carried out by a Libyan coast guard ship, from which a boat with migrants was shot down in the search and rescue zone of Malta.
Libya and Tunisia are the main exit points for migrant boats trying to leave Africa and reach European shores.
Last week, the Italian foreign minister, Antonio Tajani, met in Tunisia with the president of the Maghreb country, Cais Said, to coordinate a grassroots intervention that addresses the causes of migration in the Mediterranean, because “it’s not just a security problem.
According to Italian government data, more than 3,600 migrants have arrived in Italy via the central Mediterranean this year, a tenfold increase over the same dates last year. The main starting points of this route are Libya and Tunisia.
Source: El Diario