80 migrants rescued off Libya coast

Crew members of the ‘Ocean Viking’ rescue ship, operated by French NGOs SOS Mediterranee and MSF, arrive with rescued migrants on board of a ‘rhib,’ before boarding the rescue vessel on Saturday, following their second rescue operation in the Mediterranean Sea. (AFP)
Updated 10 August 2019

80 migrants rescued off Libya coast

  • Norway’s minister of justice and immigration, Joran Kallmyr, said on public television that the migrants should be “transported back to Africa, either to Tunisia or Libya”

ON BOARD THE OCEAN VIKING: The Ocean Viking charity ship rescued more than 80 migrants off the coast of Libya on Saturday, according to Doctors without Borders (MSF), which operates the vessel along with the French charity SOS Mediterranee.
The migrants, mainly Sudanese men and adolescents, were picked up after the Ocean Viking rescued 85 people including four children on Friday. The white rubber dinghy was spotted after a plane was seen repeatedly flying over it, MSF mission head Jay Berger said.
European forces regularly patrol the central Mediterranean looking for boats leaving the Libyan coast, particularly during mild weather.
The Ocean Viking sailed toward the area where the plane seemed to be focusing on and found the dinghy, Berger said.
“But the plane never tried to communicate with us,” he added.
Some 170 migrants, all from sub-Saharan Africa, are now on board the Ocean Viking, which left Marseille on Sunday. An AFP journalist is also on board.

Political crisis
Italy’s far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, who has taken a hard line against migrants and this week sparked a political crisis by pulling his support from the country’s governing coalition, has sent a warning to Oslo, where the rescue ship is registered.
“Italy is not legally bound, nor disposed to taken in clandestine, unidentified migrants from on board the Ocean Viking,” he wrote.

HIGHLIGHT

The migrants, mainly Sudanese men and adolescents, were picked up after the Ocean Viking rescued 85 people including four children on Friday.

He has said the same about more than 100 migrants on Spanish charity Proactiva’s Open Arms ship, which Hollywood star Richard Gere boarded on Friday.
Norway’s minister of justice and immigration, Joran Kallmyr, said on public television that the migrants should be “transported back to Africa, either to Tunisia or Libya.”
“They should not be sent to Europe because then this action will be an extension of the refugee route instead of a rescue operation,” Kallmyr said.
Gere, who boarded the Open Arms on Friday, said he had just arrived from the nearby Italian island of Lampedusa.
“We brought as much water and as much food as we possibly can, for everybody on board,” he said.
“Everyone is doing OK now but they were on two boats on the ocean. One of the boats was turned back by the Libyan navy. We don’t know what happened to them.
“The most important thing for these people here is to be able to get to a free port, to be able to get off the boat, to start a new life for themselves.”
Salvini also commented on the American movie star saying he hopes Gere “gets a bit of a suntan.”

 


Young Libyans chose danger at sea over peril at home

Updated 4 min 40 sec ago

Young Libyans chose danger at sea over peril at home

For three young Libyans plucked from a deflating dingy in the Mediterranean, the perils of trying to cross the sea were still preferable to what they had left behind in their war-torn home.
Salah, Khalil and Ibrahim, aged between 19 and 22, sat in a corner of the Ocean Viking vessel operated by SOS Mediterranee and Doctors without Borders as it waited for permission to dock at a port.
They sat apart from other migrants from Sudan, Chad, Ethiopia, Senegal and the Ivory Coast who have fled torture and abuse in Libya where most of them had gone to seek work.
“I had no idea how dangerous the sea could be,” says Khalil, 20.
“But Libya is collapsing — you cannot live there,” he adds, pulling an imaginary trigger.


Before he fled Libya, Khalil was a taxi driver.
While driving the route from Sabha, his hometown in the center to the eastern city of Benghazi, he was stopped by militia loyal to Khalifa Haftar, a strongman who holds sway in the region.
He said he was thrown into prison where he languished for three months alongside hundreds of others and was beaten daily, pointing to a scar in the corner of his mouth.
He later made a break for freedom with about 15 fellow prisoners, running the gauntlet of their jailers who fired on them as they fled.
“People were shot around me but I didn’t stop,’ he said. “I was hit too.”
Luca, the ship’s doctor who removed the bullets embedded in Khalil’s body, says such wounds are nothing new among those fleeing from conflict areas.
With his taxi taken from him, Khalil returned to his family. “I just wanted to live a normal life,” he said.
But a month later fighting broke out in his town and his mother told him to flee.
“She had no idea of how dangerous the crossing could be,” Khalil says. “Neither did I. I was happy to try the sea.”
But by the time he was rescued by Doctors without Borders on August 12, the blue rubber dingy he was sharing with 104 others was on the verge of sinking.


Nineteen-year-old Salah joined the forces of the Government of National Accord of Fayez-al-Sarraj. But he soon realized that he was not cut out for war.
“If I had stayed, I would have been killed — either by Sarraj’s men for fleeing, or by Haftar’s men for fighting for Sarraj,” he said.
He got a number from a Sudanese, and left the same day — with just time for one last selfie with his family.
Ibrahim’s reason for fleeing was the color of his skin.
“My father was black — he is dead. My uncle died in the fighting. My school was bombed. My mother said to me ‘Libya is not a country for you’.”
“My Sudanese friends were like a family to me. One from Darfur was killed right in front of me as we were on our way to play football,” he said.
“I didn’t want to fight. I was terrified on that blue boat, but Libya is more dangerous than our sunken vessel.”