Migrants, shipwreck in front of Libya. Coast Guard: “Out of our jurisdiction”

Subscribe to our newsletter to stay updated on world news

The search for the missing continues after the sinking of a dinghy that capsized yesterday in Libyan Sar waters: at the moment 30 people are missing and 17 have been rescued. Alarm Phone accuses Italy of having “knowingly delayed the rescue, they let them die”, while the Coast Guard replies that “the intervention took place outside the Italian Sar area of ​​responsibility, recording the inactivity of the other national Centers maritime rescue services affected by area”. And the never dormant political controversy is rekindled (THE MIGRANTS SPECIAL).

The reconstruction of Alarm Phone

“Thirty people died. They would still be alive if Europe hadn’t decided to let them drown”, says Alarm Phone, who had been contacted during the night between Friday and Saturday by the 47 people fleeing Libya on the boat in danger and then sank. “They had communicated their GPS position to us, which we had sent to the Italian, Maltese and Libyan authorities at 2.28am on 11 March – says the NGO – The situation was critical. The boat was adrift. The weather conditions were extremely dangerous. People on board were yelling into their phones, telling us they needed help.” “We have repeatedly informed, both by e-mail and by telephone, the Italian Maritime Rescue Coordination Center (MRCC) of this situation – says Alarm Phone – We have sent the GPS positions, reported the deterioration of conditions, people and vessel, repeatedly requesting that a rescue operation be launched immediately. Shortly after the first SOS, at 3:01, we asked the MRCC in Rome to order the merchant ship Amax Avenue, which was nearby, to intervene. Yet, despite the proximity, the ship continued past the place where the vessel was, without stopping. If the MRCC of Rome had ordered it, she could have intervened ”. Nine hours after the first SOS, Seabird 2, the Sea Watch reconnaissance aircraft sighted the vessel in distress, informing the authorities of the situation of imminent danger. “Only after several hours, merchant ships, not Italian vessels or vessels belonging to the Irini operation, reached the place where the vessel was in danger”, reconstructs Alarm Phone, which accuses: “This delay, one of the many systematic delays that Alarm Phone has documented over the years, has proven lethal. For many hours, merchant ships simply monitored the situation without intervening. Evidently, the Italian authorities were trying to prevent the people from being brought to Italy by delaying the intervention so that the so-called Libyan coastguard would arrive and forcibly take the people back to Libya, in the tortured conditions they had tried to escape from. ”.

The Alarm Phone allegations

In the first phone calls, the Libyan authorities informed Alarm Phone that they would send a boat to the place. Only later did they explain that they could not intervene due to lack of means. “They added that Italy was coordinating that search and rescue event,” says Alarm Phone. The last communication between the people on board and the NGO took place at 6.50am on 12 March. “They were exhausted and desperate, screaming and calling for help,” says Alarm Phone, who sent their location to the authorities after that call, asking for urgent action. “At 7:20, the people on board called us one last time, but we couldn’t hear anything. After our last contact, the boat capsized.” “Why, given the urgency of the situation, did the Italian authorities not immediately send adequate emergency vehicles to the site of the emergency? – asks Alarm Phone – Why did they hesitate to direct nearby merchant ships towards the vessel in distress, despite being aware of the situation and critical conditions? Where were the assets of the EU naval operation Irini and, if available, why didn’t they intervene? Why did the merchant ships simply monitor the situation and not try to rescue the 47 people before the vessel capsized? Why were the so-called Libyan coastguards unwilling to intervene? Why, despite knowing that the Libyan authorities could not intervene, the Italian authorities continue to indicate them as responsible authorities? Why are relief NGOs blocked in Italian ports? Why, after the lethal shipwreck of Crotone, which adds up to countless deaths and disappearances in the Mediterranean in recent years, does the EU continue to militarize its borders, discourage people on the move and let thousands drown?

The reconstruction of the Coast Guard

“On the night of 11 March, Watch the Med-Alarm Phone reported to the National Maritime Rescue Coordination Center in Rome, to the Maltese and Libyan ones a boat with 47 migrants on board, in the Libyan Sar area about 100 miles from the coast Libyan”, reconstructs the Coast Guard, which explained that after the signal “the unit was sighted by the NGO Seabird 2 aircraft” which proceeded to send a distress call and contacted the merchant ship Basilis L which confirmed it was heading towards the punt. All information was also provided to the Libyan and Maltese authorities. The merchant vessel Basilis L communicated that she had the small boat in sight, stopped adrift, and that she was having difficulty rescuing them due to the adverse weather conditions in the area”. “The Libyan authorities, competent for search and rescue activities in that area, due to the lack of availability of naval assets, requested the support, as required by the International Conventions on sea rescue, of the National Rescue Coordination Center seafarer of Rome which, at the request of the Libyan authorities, immediately sent an emergency satellite message to all ships in transit”, the reconstruction continues. “The Operations Center of the Coast Guard of Rome, in addition to the merchant vessel Basilis L which remained near the small boat, sent three other merchant vessels present in the area towards the vessel in difficulty. The transshipment operations of the migrants began at the first light of dawn by one of the 4 merchant ships that had reached the small boat in difficulty. During the rescue operations by the Froland motor vessel, the small boat capsized during the transshipment of migrants: 17 people were rescued and recovered from the ship while about 30 migrants were missing”. “The rescue intervention took place outside the Italian Sar area of ​​responsibility – concludes the Coast Guard – recording the inactivity of the other National Maritime Coordination and Rescue Centers involved by area”.

The political controversy

The news of the new shipwreck in the Mediterranean, as expected, has forcefully entered the political debate. The Foreign Minister, Antonio Tajani, said that “we must never exploit what happens. I am convinced, knowing the Coast Guard, the Italian Navy and the Guardia di Finanza, that these men of the sea never leave anyone without help”. The opposition goes on the attack. For Pd secretary Elly Schlein it is “a disgrace for Italy and for Europe, we can no longer see the Mediterranean reduced to a large open-air cemetery”, while the representatives of the Alleanza Verdi Sinistra affirm that “Minister Piantedosi , which coordinates these operations, is a shame for Italy and we ask for its resignation”.