8 JULY 2021 – German non-profit and refugee interest group Sea-Watch released aerial video footage of the Libyan Coast Guard (LCG) aboard the Ras Jadir, one of four boats donated by Italy to the LCG in 2017, seemingly shooting at a boat full of migrants and refugees traveling through international waters in the Maltese search and rescue zone. There were over 50 people in the boat, reportedly many of them children. In the footage, it also appears that the Coast Guard is attempting to ram into the migrant boat, nearly making full contact several times. The crew is also shown throwing objects at the migrant boat as they attempt to throw a rope over the vessel. Sea-Watch stated that they contacted the Libyan Coast Guard by radio and urged them to stop, to which they replied they were attempting to save them. Felix Weiss, head of Sea-Watch air surveillance, stated:
“Those who shoot at refugees and try to capsize their boats are not there to save them. The EU must immediately end cooperation with the so-called Libyan coastguard. European states like Malta must take back responsibility for their rescue zones and fulfil their duty to rescue.”
According to reports from Al-Jazeera, the migrant boat arrived safely to the shores of Italian island Lampedusa.
The International Rescue Committee, a refugee NGO based in New York, reported that Libyan governmental agencies have “intercepted and returned to Libya more than 13,000 people during the first six months of 2021 – more than the 11,891 intercepted throughout all of 2020”. Upon their forced arrival back in Libya, migrants are forced into detention centers infamous for their mistreatment of detainees, including forced labor, sexual assault and rape, and physical abuse.
The Libyan American Alliance strongly condemns the actions of the Libyan Coast Guard that endanger the lives of migrants and refugees. The manner in which this situation was handled suggests a blatant disregard for the lives of these individuals, who are already attempting to seek refuge from traumatic and dangerous conditions within Libya through channels towards Europe, and a willful ignorance to international laws. LAA has conducted extensive research on Libya’s refugee and migrant crisis and the inhumanities this vulnerable population continues to face. Unfortunately, the incident captured on video by Sea-Watch is unlikely to be an isolated incident. It is of the utmost importance for Libyan governmental institutions, as well as partnering groups such as the European Union, to identify this violence by its own members and remove those responsible from positions of power and hold them accountable.
Sea-Watch footage of the incident.
.يدينون التحالف الليبي الأمريكي تصرفات خفر السواحل الليبي يهددون حياة المهاجرين واللاجئين