The group of 75 migrants used a satellite telephone to seek assistance while they were being returned to Libya by Italian authorities. Several of the migrants telephoned a BBC reporter in Italy from the Italian patrol boat which had intercepted their dinghy.
One caller told the reporter ”we told the Italian military that we wanted to request asylum and asked them not to hand us over to the Libyans because we were afraid of going to jail, but they wouldn’t listen to us.”
Some of the migrants protested and refused to be moved from the Italian patrol boat to a Libyan patrol boat. The Italian boat was forced to dock at the Libyan port of Al Zuwarah in order to off load the migrants.
“A spokesman for the European Commission, Dennis Abbott, said the EU executive would ask the Italian government for details regarding Monday’s expulsion. But Abbot clarified that the EC was not ‘pointing its finger’. The spokesman explained that the EC’s goal was rather ‘to protect the right of every human being to request refugee status’ by enlisting the cooperation of member countries to share in the burden of hosting them.”