German NGO Sea-Watch broadcast on Thursday, July 1, aerial photos of Libyan coast guards apparently firing near a migrant boat trying to stop it and then running into it before giving up.
Images taken on Wednesday from an NGO reconnaissance plane show the effects of two shots on the surface of the water, two or three meters from the bow of the blue wooden boat, which held about fifty migrants. One in four coast guard ships donated by Italy to the Libyan Coast Guard in 2017, according to Sea-Watch, tries to get close to the motorized craft and appears to have repeatedly tried to bite it by multiplying dangerous maneuvers .
Members of Sea-Watch on board the aircraft made radio contact with the Coast Guard. “You put people in danger. you are so close», they tell them in English. “it’s a smuggler’s boat», responds to a Coast Guard. “keep your distance, and don’t shoot ’em», the NGO continues. It was not possible to prove that it is indeed a Libyan Coast Guard boat as claimed by the NGO. A Libyan Coast Guard official could not be immediately contacted when asked by AFP.
The incident occurred in the Malta Search and Rescue Zone, according to Sea-Watch, adding that the Coast Guard had to return due to a lack of fuel, and that the migrants had managed to dock on the ship. The Italian island of Lampedusa on Thursday morning.
Dangerous crossings in the central Mediterranean from Libya and Tunisia, one of the deadliest migration routes according to the United Nations, have increased significantly this year. According to Rome, about 21,000 people have arrived on the Italian coast since January, three times more than at the same time in 2020. Of these, 17% were minors alone. In recent weeks, dozens of people have been killed in several shipwrecks off Tunisia and Libya. According to the United Nations, more than 830 people have died in the Mediterranean region since the beginning of the year, including 694 on the central route.