Filmed: the Libyan Coast Guard shoot at a migrant boat | Migration News

A sea rescue group sees Libyan authorities fire on a crowded boat to prevent it from crossing the Mediterranean Sea to Europe.

A non-profit sea rescue group has slammed the Libyan Coast Guard after witnessing Libyan maritime authorities in what they described as chasing a crowded migrant boat and shooting at it in a apparent effort to prevent it from crossing the Mediterranean Sea to Europe.

Members of the German non-governmental group Sea-Watch filmed the incident on Wednesday as they flew over the area on an observation mission.

“Those who shoot at refugees and try to capsize their boats are not there to save them. The EU must immediately end its cooperation with the so-called Libyan Coast Guard,” Felix Weiss said in a statement from the group released with the video.

In the footage, filmed from the plane, a blue wooden boat with a small motor and at least two dozen people on board is seen being followed in circles, at high speed, by the Libyan coast guard.

During the chase, which took place in international waters under Malta’s search and rescue responsibility, uniformed men aboard the Libyan ship can be seen firing at the boat at least twice, with bullets hitting the water near the boat.

The Libyan coastguard is dangerously close to hitting the boat several times.

Sea-Watch said it informed Libyan authorities by radio that they were endangering the lives of those on board the blue ship and urged them to stop firing.

The Libyan Coast Guard responded in broken English that they were trying to rescue the migrants.

The Sea-Watch plane was low on fuel and turned back before the chase was over, the statement said. He then received reports that the boat had arrived on the Italian island of Lampedusa on Thursday morning.

There was no immediate comment on the incident from Libya, Malta or authorities in Lampedusa.

The European Union trains, equips and supports the Libyan Coast Guard to intercept people trying to cross the central Mediterranean to Europe.

At least 723 people have died or gone missing while using this route in seaworthy boats so far this year.

Nearly 15,000 men, women and children have been intercepted by the Libyan Coast Guard and brought back to Libyan shores since the beginning of the year until June 26, a record number.

More than 20,000 migrants and refugees have died trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea to Europe since 2014.

The central Mediterranean stretch between Italy and Libya has specifically seen an increase in attempted crossings and deaths this year after a lull at the height of the pandemic.

With EU support, the Libyan Coast Guard has stepped up interceptions of migrant boats, sending those on board back to Libya.

But the UN and several other rights organizations have condemned their return to the war-torn country, where many are held in heinous detention centers at risk of abuse and torture.

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