Lifeline rescues 100 asylum seekers; faced threats from Libyan Coast Guard

Credit: Mission Lifeline

The German migrant rescue NGO Mission Lifeline, has said that it has rescued around 100 asylum seekers in distress off the Libyan coast today.

According to the NGO, the rubber dinghy had burst and the SAR team had to rush to take those on the stricken dinghy to their vessel, the ‘Eleonore.’

The rescue is understood to have taken place 31 nautical miles off the Libyan coast.

They added that a vessel from the Libyan Coast Guard had arrived, coming within 50 metres of the rescue vessel and are understood to have threatened the crew.

Lifeline adds the Coast Guard had initially disobeyed the required safe distance from the rescue of 500 metres, thus interrupting the rescue operation.

They state that it had been Eleanore’s captain, Claus-Peter Reisch whom had prevented the Coast Guard from intervening in the rescue.

According to their Tweet, Mission Lifeline’s captain has called on the German Federal government to provide a port of safety for those rescued.

Return to sea

Dresden based Mission Lifeline, restarted their SAR operations in the Central Mediterranean on Friday last week.

The 20-metre vessel the ‘Eleanore’ sails under the German flag and is able to accommodate around 100 people for a short period of time.

The recommencement of operations comes just over a year after the NGO had one its vessels impounded in Malta. Captain Reisch had refused to return those rescued to Libya leading to a standoff which resulted in the Maltese authorities allowing 234 asylum seekers to a be disembarked in Malta.

“I do not feel any guilt after saving 234 migrants” – Lifeline’s captain

The vessel was subsequently confiscated and Reisch was fined €10,000 for holding a false registration for the vessel.

Papers

Much has been made of the registration of the MV Lifeline and Dutch flagging.

During his court appearance in January this year, Captain Reisch had told the the media that the vessel had been registered in Amsterdam but that the Dutch authorities had denied this.

He had called on fellow applicants for boat registration in Holland to check their papers, saying that they might be having the same problems as the MV Lifeline.

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In a previous court appearance in Malta, Captain Reisch had explained that there had been no prior communication between the NGO and the Italian, Maltese or Dutch authorities over the vessel’s registration.

He explained that there had been an ordinary check-in procedure and no one came to check their documents.  The checks on the vessel’s registration and papers had surfaced very quickly despite the vessel having entered Malta without previous check-ups.