Borderline Sicilia On Board the Sea Watch 3: The Intervention of the Libyan Coast Guard Brings Death and Refoulment

Press release – The landing operation of the Sea Watch 3 at the port of Pozzallo came to a close this morning at midday. Police, carabinieri, Frontex and EASO agents were waiting on the quayside, as well as staff from the main governmental organisations and NGOs active in Sicily. There were also workers and legal assistants from Borderline Sicily.

The Sea Watch 3 docks in at Pozzallo. Photo: Viola Gastaldi

That which has been reported and documented by the crew of the Sea Watch 3 is great cause for concern. It should be recalled however that however shocking the prejuidicial activity of the Libyan Coast Guard, enacted during the careful, tragic rescuing work and in the presence of both a French military vessel and an Italian navy helicopter, there is no reason to believe these actions to be exceptional. Over the last few months there have been multiple cases of more or less direct attacks by the Libyan in relation to the few NGO vessels left to work in the Mediterranean.

The circumstances in which such actions occur are extremely serious: while the volunteers of the Sea Watch 3 were on board two of the rescue dinghies, navigating between the floating bodies of the migrants, putting their own lives at risk in order to save the victims of the shipwreck, they were subjected to being pelted by… potatoes. When “reality overtakes fiction.”

Borderline Sicilia

Project “OpenEurope” – Oxfam Italia, Diaconia Valdese, Borderline Sicilia Onlus

Translation by Richard Braude