Nearly 1,000 migrants rescued off Libya’s coastguard: Navy

Vastavam web: Libya’s coastguard has rescued nearly 1,000 migrants who were on boats in distress in the Mediterranean on their way to Europe, the navy said today. Three separate operations took place yesterday with the coastguard bringing ashore in Libya a total of 948 migrants, navy spokesman Ayoub Kacem said. The migrants were on inflatable dinghies which were facing difficulties in the Mediterranean off the coast of Garabulli east of the capital Tripoli, navy officer Rami Ghommeidh said. In all a total of 2,000 migrants trying to make the perilous journey to Europe, often on unseaworthy boats, were either intercepted or assisted by the Libyan navy since Wednesday.

Today’s announcement by the navy came as Italy’s far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini was en route to Libya for talks on the migrant crisis. Salvini, who has vowed a hardline stance on migrants, posted a selfie on Twitter showing him on board a military plane heading for Libya and wrote “Mission Libya, we’ve left!”. Yesterday Salvini ordered foreign charities to stop rescuing migrants off Libya even as reports emerged of that a group of nearly 1,000 were on boats in distress in the Mediterranean.

“Let the Libyan authorities do their work of rescue, recovery and return (of migrants) to their country, as they have been doing for some time, without the ships of the voracious NGOs disturbing them or causing trouble,” he said. “I would like to express my heartfelt thanks, as a minister and as a father, to the authorities and the Libyan coastguard,” he said in a tweet. “Today they saved and brought 820 immigrants back to Libya, making the ‘work’ of the traffickers in vain and avoiding wrongful interventions by NGO ships,” he added.