Sea-Watch Rescues 129 Migrants Off Libyan Coast

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The German Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), Sea-Watch, announced that it had rescued 129 migrants on Saturday and Sunday.

The first 121 people were rescued early Saturday morning. “Our crew spotted the boat in distress and launched our RHIBs [Rigid Inflatable Boats] to evacuate the people from the unseaworthy boat,” Sea-Watch said via Twitter.

Sea Watch’s airplane crew spotted a small boat carrying 8 people who were saved in a second rescue operation. “On board our ship, the crew is now providing a total of 129 people with basic necessities such as medical care, food and fresh clothing,” Sea-Watch said.

Over 20,000 migrants who were returned to Libya by the country’s Coast Guard in 2021 have gone missing, according to the relief organisation Oxfam.

In the last five years, the Libyan Coast Guard intercepted over 80,000 migrants. Thousands of people deported to Libya, or incarcerated in official detention institutions risk winding up in “clandestine” facilities, Oxfam stated.

According to Oxfam, such facilities are managed by traffickers or local armed groups who “survive on the abduction industry,” citing the repercussions of the Italy-Libya agreement struck in 2017. Several accounts of “abuse and torture” suffered by unaccompanied adolescents were featured in the report. The agreement was criticised by Oxfam, which urged the Italian Parliament to cancel it, and reintroduce search-and-rescue efforts in the central Mediterranean.

“An agreement that does not prevent tragedies at sea has cost Italian taxpayers nearly one billion euros: over 8,000 people have died along the central Mediterranean route since 2017,” it stated.

Despite a number of admissions in the report, including an acknowledgment that Libyan authorities are known to have used “excessive force” against migrants, Europe remains determined to continue supporting Libyan authorities to intercept and return migrants to Libya. This according to a report circulated to European Union Officials, and seen by the Associated Press (AP).