Sea Eye, Comunicato LYBIAN MILITIAS fires warning shots at German rescue ship The crew of the Alan Kurdi remains unharmed and saves 90 lives
At an accident at sea in international waters, Libyan militias provoked a dangerous incident. “When I heard the shooting of the Libyans, I was not sure anymore we would be able to save all people, and I was fearing the worst” says Alan Kurdi Captain Bärbel Beuse.
- The Alan Kurdi crew saves 90 lives
- Libyan militias hinder the rescue effort and fire warning shots into air and water
- The Alan Kurdi crew remains unharmed
- Medical team fears for the life of an unborn child
- In the evening, Libya offers Tripoli as a “Place of Safety”
The aid organisation AlarmPhone informs Sea-Eye’s Alan Kurdi and the responsible officials of an emergency call from a rubber boat in international waters on Saturday. The search plane Moonbird was the first ship at the site. The crew started its usual distribution of life jackets and evacuated the first few people. The rubber boat was completely overburdened, and water entered. Suddenly, three heavily armed fast boats under Libyan flag approached.
The Libyans kept positioning themselves between the Alan Kurdi and the rubber boat to stop the rescue efforts. In panic, people started jumping off the white rubber boat to reach the rescue boats of the Alan Kurdi. The Libyan militia threatened the captain via radio with aiming their boat’s mounted guns at the German ship. The captain sent the majority of the crew to the back of the ship to minimise the danger to them. “Such a confrontation is always the least likely scenario. Still, we have practiced and talked through the eventuality of such events”, Jan Ribbeck says, director of Mission at Sea-Eye e.V.
The situation further escalated when warning shots were fired into the air and water. The Libyans aimed their mounted guns at the people in the water. Head of Mission Joshua Wedler describes that the Alan Kurdi was unable to manoeuvre at this point, because the Libyan boats had positioned themselves in such a way that the ship could neither move forward or back.
A collision between the Alan Kurdi and the rubber boat made many people fall into the water. People, who were taken on board by the Libyan militia jumped right back into the water. At land, Sea-Eye asked the German Foreign Ministry for urgent help avoiding a severe tragedy. “The contact to the ship fell out for almost an hour. With all the information we had at this time, we worried greatly about the lives of our own crew”, Ribbeck says further. In this chaos, the Alan Kurdi’s crew was able to act soberly and professionally. They pulled all people from the water and the rubber boat on board of their own ship. At this point, the dangerous confrontation ended.
The Libyans confiscated the empty rubber boat and thus withdrew. 90 survivors together with 17 crew members are now on board the rescue ship Alan Kurdi. The crew remained unharmed. “I am completely shocked at what happened here today and am happy that my crew remained unharmed. Now we’ll take care of the saved people first”, says Captain Beuse. In the meantime, the medical team fears for the life of an unborn child. A pregnant woman suffers from heavy abdominal bleeding. Jan Ribbeck has asked the Maltese and Italian officials for the woman’s evacuation. “We’re afraid the young mother as lost her baby during this incident”, says Ribbeck. “It is an unbelievable and shocking fact that European, civil rescue forces were threatened and endangered here by persons, who are supported in their human rights violating efforts to stop people fleeing Libya by the rescue crew’s very own home countries”, Gorden Isler says, Spokesperson of Sea Eye e.V. “That no one was harmed today is solely attributable to the professional and de-escalating demeanour of our crew. We are happy that they will return safely to their families”, Isler says.
In the evening, the Libyan Officer al-Abuzidi tells the Alan Kurdi that Tripoli should be the “Place of Safety” for the saved people. Referring to international law, the Sea-Eye-mission control denied this assigned port and took course towards the Italian island Lampedusa.