Saturday 18 August 2018

Migrant rescue group suspends operations

A wooden boat carrying migrants approaches the Aquarius rescue vessel of SOS Méditerranée and MSF (Doctors Without Borders) NGOs, in the Mediterranean Sea, some 74km north of the Libyan coast last week. Photo: AP
A wooden boat carrying migrants approaches the Aquarius rescue vessel of SOS Méditerranée and MSF (Doctors Without Borders) NGOs, in the Mediterranean Sea, some 74km north of the Libyan coast last week. Photo: AP

Nick Squires in Rome

A humanitarian organisation that has saved the lives of 40,000 migrants in the Mediterranean has suspended its operations, citing security concerns and "increasing instability" off the coast of Libya.

The Malta-based Migrant Offshore Aid Station (Moas), which was founded by a pair of philanthropists, said it wanted nothing to do with Libya's interception of migrant boats leaving its coast. It will instead redeploy its flagship, the Phoenix, to south-east Asia to help Rohingya refugees fleeing Myanmar for Bangladesh.

The Libyan coastguard, trained and financed by the EU, has in recent weeks been blocking migrant boats and pushing them back to the coast.

Human rights groups say migrants, most of them sub-Saharan Africans, face appalling conditions in holding camps and detention centres in Libya, including torture, rape, violent assault and modern-day slavery.

"At present, there are too many questions without an answer, and too many doubts about those trapped [in] or forced back to Libya," said Regina Catrambone, the co-founder of Moas.

"Moas does not want to become part of a scenario where no one pays attention to the people who deserve protection, instead only focusing on preventing them from arriving on European shores with no consideration of their fate when trapped on the other side of the sea."

Irish Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editors Choice

Also in World News