The Address | Benghazi – Libya
ROME – Italy’s Interior Minister, Matteo Salvini, told Italian media that rescued 393 migrants by the Libyan Coast Guard on Sunday.
The migrants, who were rescued during three separate incidents, were brought back to Libya. In particular, 143 were sent to Tripoli, 144 to Misurata, 106 to Khoms.
“They are all safe and sound,” said Salvini, “The collaboration works, the smugglers, the traffickers and the mobsters must understand that their business is over. Fewer departures, fewer deaths.”
Tutti sani, salvi e riportati indietro i 393 immigrati recuperati ieri dalla Guardia Costiera libica.
La collaborazione funziona, gli scafisti, i trafficanti e i mafiosi devono capire che i loro affari sono finiti.
Meno partenze, meno morti. #portichiusihttps://t.co/Xaf1dVrlxo
— Matteo Salvini (@matteosalvinimi) January 21, 2019
In one particular incident, a boat carrying 100 migrants contacted Alarm Phone, which is an independent NGO that supports for people crossing the Mediterranean Sea. Alarm Phone said that upon receiving the distress call they contacted Italian and Maltese authorities which referred them to Tripoli-based Coast Guard.
The Libyan Coast Guard did not respond after several calls. Italian and Maltese authorities kept referring Alarm Phone to Libya despite knowing that Libyan Coast Guard is not responding. The distress boat was kept without help for about 12 hours. Eventually, a merchant vessel rescued the distress boat and brought them to Libya.
Commenting on the incident, Italy’s Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio said in a media statement that the Italian authorities called the Libyan Coast Guard “because we expect them [migrants] to be rescued at sea.”
International organization condemned the decision to return the migrants to Libya. UNHCR spokesperson, Carlotta Sami, stressed that Libya “is not a safe haven”. Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) or Doctors Without Borders have also condemned the decision, citing reports by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch which documented serious human rights abuses against migrants in Libya’s detention centers.
— MSF Sea (@MSF_Sea) January 21, 2019