Sea Eye rescues 90 despite militia warning shots

Twitter / Sea Eye

Humanitarian vessel Alan Kurdi managed to rescue 90 people despite Libyan militias provoked a dangerous incidents in international waters. The dramatic rescue was hindered by Libyan militias which positioned its boats in such a way that the humanitarian ship could not move. The Libyans aimed at the people in the water with their mounted guns.

One of the rescues, a pregnant woman has suffered from heavy abdominal bleeding, with the crew fearing for the unborn child.

In a statement late on Saturday night, the German civil search and rescue NGO, Sea Eye which operates the Alan Kurdi spoke about the ordeal, assuring that the crew escaped unharmed. Newsbook.com.mt reported that Sea Eye’s crew was threatened by the Libyan Coast Guard.

Migrant hotline Alarm Phone informed Alan Kurdi and the responsible authorities of a distress call from a rubber boat in international waters on Saturday. Moonbird, a search plane operated by a separate NGO, Sea Watch, was the first on site. The crew had already started distributing life jackets and evacuated the first few people, when three heavily armed fast boats under Libyan flagged approached. Sea Eye described the rubber boat as being overburdened.

Twitter / Sea Eye

The Libyans positioned themselves between the Alan Kurdi and the rubber boat to stop the rescue efforts.

The people started jumping off the rubber boat to reach the rescue boats of the Alan Kurdi. The Libyan militia threatened the captain via radio and aimed their boat’s mounted guns at the ship.

The crew was sent to the back of the ship to minimise the danger.

“Such a confrontation is always the least likely scenario. Still, we have practiced and talked through the eventuality of such events,” Director of Mission Jan Ribbeck said.

Shots were fired into the air and water. The Libyans aimed at the people in the water.

The humanitarian vessel was unable to maneuver and a collision between the humanitarian vessel and the rubber boat caused many people to fall overboard. People who were taken onto the Libyan vessels jumped immediately back into the water.

All the people were rescued by the Sea Eye crew. The Libyans withdrew once the empty rubber boat was confiscated.

All 90 individuals and 17 crew escaped unharmed. However concerns over the unborn child of pregnant woman were raised since she suffered from heavy abdominal bleeding. A medical evacuation was requested to the Maltese and Italian authorities.

“We’re afraid that the young mother lost her baby during this incident,” Ribbeck said.

“It is an unbelievable and shocking fact that European, civil rescue forces were threatened and endangered here by persons, who are supported in their human rights violating efforts to stop people fleeing Libya by the rescue crew’s very own home countries”, Sea Eye spokseperson, Gorden Isler said.

“That no one was harmed today is solely attributable to the professional and de-escalating demeanour of our crew. We are happy that they will return safely to their families”, Isler added.

In the evening, the Libyan Officer Al Abuzidi assigned Tripoli as a “place of safety”for the rescued people. Referring to international law, the Sea-Eye-mission control denied this assigned port and took course towards the Italian island of Lampedusa.