An NGO rescue ship reported Monday that shots were fired as it rescued 68 people from the sea off Libya.
The ship Alan Kurdi said it received an emergency call via the NGO Alarm Phone and set course for the coordinates it was given. Upon arrival the crew found a wooden boat with 68 people on board. None of them had a life jacket.
When the crew launched their first rescue boat, a Libyan-flagged speedboat approached at high speed.
"Shots were fired and risky manoeuvres by the Libyans quickly led to a life-threatening escalation of the situation. Around half of the people from the overcrowded wooden boat jumped into the water and tried to reach the Alan Kurdi on their own."
After a short time matters calmed down and the Libyan boat allowed the rescue of people in the water, the supply of people with life jackets on the wooden boat and the subsequent evacuation of the refugees remaining in the wooden boat.
The vast majority of those rescued said they were from Bangladesh, a few from Syria, Chad or Sudan.
“With their behaviour, the Libyans risked the drowning of many people. While the EU member states pay money to so-called Libyan coast guards, our crew was once again hindered and threatened while saving lives,” said Gorden Isler, chairman of Sea-Eye, the German charity which operated the Alan Kurdi.
Independent journalism costs money. Support Times of Malta for the price of a coffee.Support Us