NGO says Libyan authorities ignoring migrant boat in distress

The NGO Alarm Phone said Italian and Maltese authorities both referred it to Libya which has so far not responded as time runs out for 100 migrants

The NGO Alarm Phone said it was being ignored by Libyan authorities over a migrant boat in distress
The NGO Alarm Phone said it was being ignored by Libyan authorities over a migrant boat in distress

A migrant boat carrying some 100 people and which reported that it was in distress on Sunday morning, is being ignored by authorities, an NGO said.

The claim comes the day after NGO’s forming part of the #united4med alliance said that some 120 migrants who left Libya yesterday had drowned.

The NGO Alarm Phone, which offers independent support to people crossing the Mediterranean to the EU, said that at 11 on Sunday morning it had received the position of a boat in distress carrying 100 people 60 nautical miles off Misrata in Libya.

“The situation was calm and they asked us to stan by as they are currently underway using an engine,” Alarm Phone wrote in a Tweet.

“Between 11:40 and 12:20 people were increasingly panicking. They wanted to inform authorities, but not the Libyans. We gave legal counselling, explaining to them that Libya and Italy would claim Libya’s responsibility for the area they are located,” read the second in a series of Tweets uploaded by the NGO on Sunday afternoon.

The NGO said it had then received a new position for the boat as well as information that one child on board was “unconscious or deceased”.

“The boat is taking in water. They want us to call for help, regardless of what this would mean concerning a possible return to Libya.”

By 2pm, said the NGO, both Malta and Italy had referred it back to Libya.

“We called several times the 6 different numbers of JRCC Tripoli. They are not reachable. Do they even exist? We informed Malta and Italy about this and received a 7th number by Rome, it is not working either. Currently no authority confirmed to us SAR coordination.”

The NGO said that despite Europe paying millions of Euro to the Libyan militias to abduct fleeing people, they can't even operate a phone line. "We attempt to inform them only because all European authorities refuse responsibility for the people in distress. We want them safe, and not back in inhumane cages."

At 5:20pm, the NGO said that the people on the boat said they were being circled by a military aircraft which the NGO assumed was the Spanish MPA SEAGULL operated by the EUNAVFORMED SOPHIA - an EU military operation aimed at disrupting human trafficking.

"We wonder who gives commands to the SEAGULL? Will a European authority facilitate an illegal pushback by the LYCG?" the NGO asked