The Guardian on Sunday reported many more details about an incident that began on 25 March when a migrant boat left Libya carrying 72 asylum seekers and which ended 16 days later on 10 April when the disabled vessel washed ashore in Libya with only 11 survivors. The survivors have described several incidents where military ships and planes ignored their pleas for rescue. It is clear from the survivors’ descriptions that their disabled vessel was sighted because at one point a military helicopter dropped bottles of water and emergency food rations on the migrant boat.
The UNHCR and Father Mussie Zerai, an Eritrean priest in Rome who runs the refugee rights organisation Habeshia, have called for further investigations into why the boat’s passengers were not rescued.
From the Guardian article: “The Guardian’s investigation into the case of the boat of 72 migrants which set sail from Tripoli on 25 March established that it carried 47 Ethiopians, seven Nigerians, seven Eritreans, six Ghanaians and five Sudanese migrants. Twenty were women and two were small children, one of whom was just one year old. The boat’s Ghanaian captain was aiming for the Italian island of Lampedusa, 180 miles north-west of the Libyan capital, but after 18 hours at sea the small vessel began running into trouble and losing fuel. Using witness testimony from survivors and other individuals who were in contact with the passengers during its doomed voyage, the Guardian has pieced together what happened next. The account paints a harrowing picture of a group of desperate migrants condemned to death by a combination of bad luck, bureaucracy and the apparent indifference of European military forces who had the opportunity to attempt a rescue….
The Guardian has made extensive inquiries to ascertain the identity of the Nato aircraft carrier, and has concluded that it is likely to have been the French ship Charles de Gaulle, which was operating in the Mediterranean on those dates. French naval authorities initially denied the carrier was in the region at that time. After being shown news reports which indicated this was untrue, a spokesperson declined to comment.
A spokesman for Nato, which is co-ordinating military action in Libya, said it had not logged any distress signals from the boat and had no records of the incident. ‘Nato units are fully aware of their responsibilities with regard to the international maritime law regarding safety of life at sea,’ said an official. ‘Nato ships will answer all distress calls at sea and always provide help when necessary. Saving lives is a priority for any Nato ships.’”
Click here for full Guardian article.
Click here (IT) for earlier article.
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