Moonbird: Desperate Escape Attempts





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Published on May 12, 2019

The Sea-Watch 3 is on her way to the search and rescue zone. The last 48 hours have shown how direly rescue capacities are needed there: At least 8 boats, among them a capsized one with presumably up to 70 dead; at least 240 people forcibly returned to Libya; our air reconnaissance in continuous operation.

The crew of our #Moonbird observed a particularly desperate attempt of escape on Saturday: During an interception by the so-called Libyan Coast Guard, several people jumped from a rubber dinghy which had been on the water since the day before. In order to escape the forced return to Libya, one of them swam to the nearby offshore supply vessel Vos Triton, which had observed the case but didn’t intervene. The ship first tried to speed away but could be persuaded to stop via radio by our aircrew. Three other swimmers who couldn’t make it to the Triton sought refuge on the remains of their already destroyed rubber boat. But neither the driftwood nor the European-flagged ship offered protection; the Libyans were allowed to enter the Vos Triton and detained the swimmer, together with two other people who had presumably already crossed over to the ship the night before.

"Each of these boats starting at the moment resembles an act of desperation, but the picture of these people trying swim to safety sticks in your mind," says Neeske Beckmann, #Moonbird’s Tactical Coordinator. "The EU is now openly coordinating the breach of international law at its external border by sending planes to guide the Libyans to the boats. But due to their incompetence, there were also a few surprisingly positive incidents in the midst of the chaos: After the Italian Navy had led by example on Thursday, the Italian Coast Guard also rescued 68 people, the Maltese 85. To push for these interventions is the reason why we continue to fly missions on a daily basis, for no one should die at sea and no one should be kidnapped back to Libya."

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Video: Dustin Lose / Sea-Watch.org


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