Sea rescuers in the Mediterranean are increasingly coming under pressure during their operations.
Most recently, there were two more incidents involving rescue ships.
Frankfurt/Lampedusa – Several people died again in boat accidents on the Mediterranean Sea at the weekend.
As the Tunisian coast guard announced on Sunday, 29 people from sub-Saharan countries drowned.
Eleven “illegal migrants” were rescued.
In the last week more and more people tried to cross the Mediterranean Sea towards the EU border - many of the attempts ended fatally.
NGOs are primarily responsible for rescuing people in distress at sea, and they help on their own in the Mediterranean.
But the organizations are becoming more and more difficult to use.
Sea rescuers arrested after rescue operation on Lampedusa: "This is unacceptable"
The ship "Louise Michel" has been held at the port of the Italian island of Lampedusa since Saturday.
The crew of the German-flagged ship had previously rescued 180 people from several boats.
“We know that at this moment dozens of boats are in distress just off the island, but we are being prevented from helping.
This is unacceptable!” wrote the crew of the “Louise Michel” on Twitter on Sunday.
The Italian Coast Guard confirmed the arrest of the rescue ship.
After a first rescue operation in Libyan waters, the "Louise Michel" was assigned the port of the Sicilian city of Trapani, the authority said in a statement.
According to the Coast Guard, the order was intended to prevent "a large number of people from getting on board the ship that would threaten the safety of the ship and the people on it".
However, the crew violated the Coast Guard order "by heading for three other migrant boats."
Italy takes action against sea rescuers: "Louise Michel" is detained for 20 days
On Monday, the crew of the "Louise Michel" announced on Twitter that the ship would be detained in Lampedusa for a total of 20 days.
A new legislative decree by the Italian government serves as the basis for the decision.
It obliges sea rescuers to carry out only one rescue operation per mission.
According to critics, this increases the risk of fatal accidents in the Mediterranean.
“We will take all necessary steps to combat this detention.
The sole aim of the decree law is to block rescue ships, knowingly accepting the death of people en route,” the crew continued.
The almost 30 meter long "Louise Michel" was financed by the British street artist Banksy, among others.
Mediterranean Incident: To chase away NGO ship – Libyan Coast Guard opens fire
Another incident occurred off the coast of Libya on Friday.
As the NGO "SOS Mediterranee" announced, the rescue ship "Ocean Viking" was intercepted by the Libyan coast guard on the way to a boat in distress.
"All attempts by the team on the bridge to contact the Libyan Coast Guard vessel via radio went unanswered, while the crew of the Libyan Coast Guard patrol vessel began behaving aggressively, threatening guns and firing shots in the air," it wrote “SOS Mediterranee” on its website.
The NGO Sea-Watch International shared a video of the incident on Twitter.
🔴Shots fired during rescue operation!
Today we witnessed the attack on the crew of @SOSMedIntl and people in a boat in distress.
After a distress call from @alarm_phone, our search plane Seabird, Ocean Viking, and a ship of the so-called Libyan Coast Guard were on the scene.
— Sea-Watch International (@seawatch_intl) March 25, 2023
"As the safety of the crew was threatened, the Ocean Viking sailed away from the scene at full speed while the Libyan Coast Guard continued to fire," the statement said.
The people in distress were then brought back to the Libyan mainland by the coast guard.
It was the second time this year that the Libyan coast guard had actively obstructed a rescue operation by the organization.
"SOS Mediteranee condemns this escalation of violence and the deliberate threat to the safety of our crew and shipwrecked people in the Central Mediterranean by the EU-sponsored Libyan Coast Guard," the NGO wrote at the end of the statement.
(fd with AFP)