New video has emerged of a failed rescue attempt in the Mediterranean. At least five African migrants drowned and 58 others were injured last week when their rickety boat capsized while on its way to Europe.
It appears their supposed rescuers, members of the Libyan coast guard, were trying to capture them to return them to North Africa.
Johannes Bayer watched as thefell between their flimsy dingy and the Libyan coast guard’s boat. Some were trapped or barely treading water.
“For me it just felt like chaos — complete chaos,” Bayer said.
Bayer is in charge of the German aid ship “Sea Watch,” which scrambled toand filmed the Libyans’ botched rescue.
“The boat you’re seeing there — it’s not a rescue boat. It’s a military patrol boat — it’s not made for rescues,” Bayer said.
“The Libyans, they are hitting the people with ropes, they’re shouting the whole time — so they put a lot of — like more chaos into the situation. They are not calming the people down.”
With European Union backing, Italy has been training the Libyan coast guard to boost its capabilities to stem migrant crossings. But Bayer said the Libyans can be too aggressive in trying to turn migrants back.
At one point, a migrant hangs off the side of the ship and is kicked. He clings to a ladder as the Libyan vessel takes off. On the radio, there’s a desperate plea: the voice says, “You’re killing a person, you’re killing a person.”
So far, more than 19,000 migrants have been rescued in Libyan waters this year. But with the Libyan coast guard’s more aggressive stance, some aid groups suspended operations in the Mediterranean as they felt it was too dangerous to continue.
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