MH and Open Arms: “Boats leave Libya and disappear into thin air”

Rejecting these people means sending them back to an unsafe place.

Disegno di Francesco Piobbichi

Rome (NEV/CS08), 23 January 2019 – “We have been contacted by the families of missing people who are talking about another boat disappearing in the Mediterranean. They told us about an inflatable boat carrying 95 people, which left the port of Zuwara, a city west of Tripoli, on 21 December 2018. 20 women and 5 children were also on board, and most of the passengers were of Egyptian and Bengali origin. Alberto Mallardo, operator of the refugee and migrant programme of FCEI, Mediterranean Hope (MH) in Lampedusa says, “Nothing is known about this boat. We heard about it from some people who are desperately searching for relatives and friends who left and disappeared into thin air. They don’t know how to find them. The problem is this: who can they ask for information? The survivors, the relatives of those who are missing, and also us as operators, do not know of a reliable contact person who can give us definite answers. Libya is not a safe place. Not only are people not being helped, but we are also faced with cases like the one which has just been reported to us and which would show that more people have died, amid the indifference of European governments.”

MH collaborates with the Spanish NGO Proactiva Open Arms to support search and rescue actions in the Central Mediterranean.

“It is finally clear to everyone that the self-proclaimed Libyan coastguard does not exist,” declares Riccardo Gatti, Captain of the Astral and Head of the Open Arms Mission “these are armed militias who not only violate the rights of people but have no expertise in bringing them to safety. Stopping the NGO ships means letting men, women and children die without there being witnesses to report it.”