Libya Coast Guard Denies It Abandoned Migrants at Sea
Tripoli, July 19, 2018,(AltAfrica) – Libya’s coast guard is denying accusations by a Spanish aid group that it left two women and a child to die in the Mediterranean Sea.
Coast guard spokesman Ayoub Gassim on Tuesday said the service carries out rescues of Europe-bound migrants, “in accordance with international standards in saving lives at sea.”
He blamed human traffickers and “irresponsible, non-governmental groups” for any tragedies that occur at sea.
He said the Libyan coast guard intercepted a Europe-bound boat with 160 passengers on Monday.
But the Spanish group, Proactiva Open Arms, said it found one woman alive Tuesday and another dead, along with the body of a toddler, in a deflated rubber dinghy off the Libyan coast.
The head of Proactiva Open Arms, Oscar Camps said the two women had refused to board the Libyan vessels with the rest of the migrants and were abandoned at sea after the Libyan coast guard destroyed their boat.
Camps also blamed the deaths of the migrants on Italy’s new populist government, which has vowed to halt the influx of migrants across the Mediterranean and has given aid to Libyan authorities to do that.
The United Nations migration agency said more than 1,400 migrants have died or are missing in the Mediterranean as of July 15 this year.