68 rescued as Libyan Coast Guard fires threatening shots at Sea-Eye

Twitter / Sea-Eye

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

68 people were rescued by the humanitarian search and rescue organisation Sea-Eye on Monday amid threatening shots fired by the Libyan Coast Guard. The vessel set course towards another boat in distress.

In a statement the organisation said that on Monday morning the vessel was informed about a wooden boat carrying 68 individuals via the NGO Alarm Phone. Sea-Eye captain Bärbel Beuse informed the responsible authorities about the boat in distress.

The humanitarian vessel set its course towards the boat and found 68 individuals without life jackets.

When the first rescue boat was launched from Alan Kurdi, a Libyan-flagged speedboat approached at high speed, Sea-Eye explained. The NGO said that shots were fired while the Libyans proceeded with risky maneuvers leading up to a life-threatening situation.

Sea-Eye explained that people jumped into the water and tried to reach the rescue vessel on their own.

“When I heard the Libyan gunfire, I was very concerned about my crew and the refugees,” the head of mission abroad the Alan Kurdi Stefan Schütz said.

The German authorities have been informed about the Libyan threat.

The rescue operation was successful with all 68 individuals saved. The wooden boat was retrieved by the Libyan authorities.

Sea-Eye said that some of the rescued individuals were suffering from hypothermia or were in shock. Among the claimed nationalities there are Bangladeshis, Syrians, people from Chad and Sudan.

Twenty individuals have claimed that they were minors.

“With their behavior, the Libyans risked the drowning of many people. While the EU member states pay money to so-called Libyan coast guards, our crew is once again hindered and threatened while saving lives,” said Gorden Isler, Chairman of Sea-Eye e. V.