Update to the incident of November 6, when at least five people died due to the reckless behavior of Libyan Coast Guards in international waters: https://sea-watch.org/en/dramatic-rescue-operation-sea-watch-3/
Inappropriate and reckless behavior during rescue
The primary goal of the Libyan coast guards was clearly to take back people to Libya and not their rescue – despite the drastic starting situation when people were already in the water (click photo 1), they did not deploy their rescue boat. Instead, they approached the scene directly with their vessel which is absolutely inappropriate for a safe rescue procedure (photo 2) – even though our rescue boats were already on their way. The heavy Libyan patrol vessel thereby nearly overrun the rubber boat in distress (photo 2) causing an extremely dangerous situation for those on board: In the photo, you see that the back of the distress boat is already below the stern of the Libyan vessel. Many of the refugees then jumped into the water.
Rubberboats as the one in question are very instable, especially if some of the tubes are already defleating. In such cases it is paramount for a safe rescue to stay away with bigger vessels but to carry out a calm and safe rescue with small rescue boats.
With the 2 fast rescue boats of the Sea-Watch 3, the tenders of the french warship and the rescue boat, the Libyans did not use, a safe and calm rescue could have been done, instead the Libyans decided to move in and to cause chaos. Indeed they saved some people out of the water then but they rather climbed the ship them selves in fear of their lives (photo 2). Many of the Libyan Coast Guards are standing around on their vessel instead of doing everything to save those in the water.
Violence onboard Libyan coast guard vessel
Aggressive behavior of members of the Libyan coast guard both towards those rescued and towards Sea-Watch crew members causes more stress and chaos than relief. Full video here:
[arve url=”https://youtu.be/GXNbpLN9frQ” /]
Coordination and cooperation during the rescue
Libyan coast guards speed up their vessel while a man is still clinging to starboard side (video above), a life threatening situation. An Italian Navy helicopter even had to intervene directly to prevent a further fatality (video on Twitter).
The audio recording on the Bridge of the Sea-Watch 3 prooves that all the assets on the ground were constantly in contact, only the Libyan Coast Guard refused cooperation with the other assets on the ground. Listen to it here:
[arve url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p4LU5-NoHVw” /]
00:00:00 Sea-Watch, Sea-Watch this is warship at Channel 1
00:00:07 Warship this is Sea-Watch 3 over
00:00:15 Sea-Watch, Sea-Watch this is warship, do you read me?
00:00:20 This is Sea-Watch 3, i read you clear
00:00:23 Change to Channel 12
00:00:27 Channel 12
00:00:51 I would [.?.] and i am ready to help you if necessary
00:00:56 Understood we will proceed to the target and we will call if we need assistance, over
00:01:04 Okay stay on Channel 12
00:01:13 Libyan coastguard, this is Italian Navy helicopter, people are jumping in the water. Stop your engine and please cooperate with Sea-Watch. Please, cooperate with Sea-Watch!
00:01:33 Sea-Watch, Sea-Watch [.?.] on coastguard [.?.] This is Italian Navy helicopter, channel 16 we want you to stop now, NOW, NOW! Lybian coastguard, lybian coastguard, you have one person on the right side, please stop your engine! Stop your engine !
00:02:03 Stop your engine now ! Stop your engine ! You have [.?.] right side, please, stop !
00:02:17 Stop! Stop! Stop! Stop your engine, stop your engine now. Stop your engine now, please!
photo credits: Lisa Hoffmann / Sea-Watch