Dozens of migrants refuse to leave container ship in Libya

Migrants on board the container ship Nivin refuse to disembark in Misrata. 91 migrants, including a baby, were rescued by the ship’s crew last weekend after leaving Libya in a raft. (AP Photo)
Updated 14 November 2018
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Dozens of migrants refuse to leave container ship in Libya

  • Loaded with cars, the ship Nivin was already bound for Misrata when it picked up 93 migrants in a foundering raft in the Mediterranean Sea late on Friday
  • The ship’s cargo of cars was peacefully unloaded, but the migrants remained unmoved

MISRATA: Dozens of migrants have barricaded themselves in a container ship in the Libyan port city of Misrata for the past five days, after being picked up at sea, and refuse to disembark, saying Libya is too dangerous for them.
Loaded with cars, the ship Nivin was already bound for Misrata when it picked up 93 migrants in a foundering raft in the Mediterranean Sea late on Friday and continued toward its destination. Two of the migrants agreed to leave with the Libyan coast guard, but the others refused, saying Libya was deadly for migrants and they wanted to go to Europe.
They have been in the Misrata port ever since, with the captain and crew taking refuge on the upper decks.
One of the migrants, a man from South Sudan reached by The Associated Press on the ship, vowed on Wednesday to reach Europe or die trying. He said six commercial ships passed his group before the Nivin finally stopped.
Libya’s coast guard had no immediate comment on the situation.
With just one rescue ship patrolling the Mediterranean, and European ports refusing to take in rescued migrants, commercial ships have become increasingly leery of picking up people in the sea. Repeatedly in recent months, they have found themselves caught in the middle between governments hostile to new migrants and an obligation under international maritime law to save
The man, who identified himself only by his name, Victor, fearing for his safety, said he himself had already been imprisoned repeatedly in Libya and that his own brother had died there. He had no intention of returning, he said.
“We don’t want to go out in Libya,” he told The Associated Press. “You can come and take my dead body outside.”
Julien Raickman, who is the head of the Doctors Without Borders mission in Libya, said Europe’s policy of refusing to take in rescued migrants has led to a spike in deaths. Now one in five who cross perish at sea, he said.
Raickman said the Libyan coast guard has given international organizations access to the migrants, who have food and some degree of medical care now, but no toilets or other sanitary facilities. The ship’s cargo of cars was peacefully unloaded, but the migrants remained unmoved.
“We’re afraid that this dispute will end in violence. The people who are on board are determined. They know that they went far and could face charges for taking control of a boat,” he said. “But these are people motivated by despair.”


Turkey: EU sanctions over gas drilling ‘worthless’

Updated 49 min 27 sec ago
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Turkey: EU sanctions over gas drilling ‘worthless’

  • EU foreign ministers said they are suspending talks with Turkey over air transport agreement
  • They backed EU’s proposal to decrease financial assistance to Turkey

ANKARA: Turkey on Tuesday rejected as “worthless” an initial set of sanctions approved by the European Union against Ankara, and vowed to send a new vessel to the eastern Mediterranean to reinforce its efforts to drill for hydrocarbons off the island of Cyprus.
EU foreign ministers on Monday approved sanctions against Turkey over its drilling for gas in waters where EU member Cyprus has exclusive economic rights. They said they were suspending talks on an air transport agreement, as well as high-level Turkey-EU dialogues, and would call on the European Investment Bank to review its lending to the country.
They also backed a proposal by the EU’s executive branch to reduce financial assistance to Turkey for next year. The ministers warned that additional “targeted measures” were being worked on to penalize Turkey, which started negotiations to join the EU in 2005.
Speaking at a news conference in Macedonia, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said the sanctions aimed to “appease” Cyprus and were of “no importance.”
“The EU needs us concerning the migration issue or other issues,” he said. “They will come to us and hold contacts; there is no escaping that.”
“They know that the decisions they took cannot be applied,” he said. “They were forced to take the worthless decisions under pressure from the Greek Cypriots and Greece.”
Cavusoglu added: “If you take such decisions against Turkey, we will increase our activities. We have three ships in the eastern Mediterranean, will with send a fourth.”
Earlier, the Turkish Foreign Ministry criticized the EU for ignoring the rights of Turkish Cypriots and accused the 28-nation bloc of “prejudice and bias.”
It added that Turkey was determined to protect its rights and the rights of Turkish Cypriots.
Two Turkish vessels escorted by warships are drilling for gas on either end of ethnically divided Cyprus. A third Turkish exploration ship is also in the area. Turkey insists that it has rights over certain offshore zones and that Turkish Cypriots have rights over others.
Cyprus was split along ethnic lines in 1974 when Turkey invaded in the wake of a coup by supporters of union with Greece. A Turkish Cypriot declaration of independence is recognized only by Turkey, which keeps more than 35,000 troops in the breakaway north. Cyprus joined the EU in 2004, but only the internationally recognized south enjoys full membership benefits.
Cypriot officials accuse Turkey of using the minority Turkish Cypriots in order to pursue its goal of exerting control over the eastern Mediterranean region.
The Cypriot government says it will take legal action against any oil and gas companies supporting Turkish vessels in any repeat attempt to drill for gas. Cyprus has already issued around 20 international arrest warrants against three international companies assisting one of the two Turkish vessels now drilling 68 kilometers off the island’s west coast.