Libya Allows the Boats to Leave for Salvini, but the Show Ends with a Massacre

Taken from L’

In a letter to Espresso, the founder of “Proactiva Open Arms” writes: dozens drowned and 120 missing in the operation organised by the Tripoli Coast Guard organised to demonstrate its rescuing abilities to the Minister of the Interior. And Lampedusa denies refuelling for a rescue plane.

Matteo Salvini and the Libyan Minister of Interior, Abdulsalam Ashour

If we carefully analyse what happened in open sea on Sunday 24 June 2018, we can see a series of “fortuitous circumstances” that have never been seen in two years of rescue operations in the Mediterranean.

On that same morning, the Italian Coast Guard sent out warnings of vessels in distress via Inmarsat: case 484 at 08:16 and cases 485, 486, 487 488, 489 and 490 over the following 68 minutes. It is not usual to receive so many warnings near to the same target, all positioned in international waters over the space of 5.7 nautical miles. This is a very short distances after a navigation of 6-7 hours and 29 miles without any satelite apparatus and steered by inexpert hands.

The fact that so many vessels were so close together in the same hour probably means that they left from practically the same place and at a very small distance of time between each departure.

The operation cannot have passed without obsveration by those who have been charged with stopping human trafficking and have been trained, armed and financed by the EU for this reason, consisting as it did of more than 1,000 people across seven vessels that had to be filled up, and made to leave with more than 1,000 litres of fuel, with all the objectibe difficulties of making scared women, men and children embark in the early morning.

Founder and director of the NGO “Proactiva Open Arms”

All of this cannot have happened without the collaboration of various figures, first and foremost among the Libyan Coast Guard base at Al-Khums, from where the boats probably departed and were the moto boats donated by Italian to the Libyans are baed.

To these fortuitous circumstances, one can add the fact that the vessel of the NGO “SOS Mediterranée” was curiously much further West, more than 100 nautical miles, and that the Open Arms vessel, an hour from entering port, was denied authorisation to land at La Valletta (Malta) to carry out a change of crew, bring on supplies and refuel.

The Open Arms vessel was thus forced to remain in international waters over the previous 12 hours until it was decided to hire another vessel to transport the crew and supplies to and from Malta, delaying its arrival in the Search and Rescue (SAR) zone by 10 hours.

Once in the SAR zone, the captain of the Open Arms requested the pilot of the aircraft Colibri, owned by the organisation “Piloter Volontaires” that collaborates with the search and rescue of bessels in distress, to conferm the position of the vessels in qyestion. But the response was that the plane could not take off because the Lampedusan authorities had “casually” denied the chance to refuel.

Without witnesses in sea nor air, the “show of strength” prepared to show-off the Italian project of the Libyan Coast Guard was ready, “casually” occurring on the eve of the visit to Tripoli by the controversial minister of the Interior Matteo Salvini, the greatest supporter of the necessity of financing these armed groups.

The Italian Coast Guard informed the Open Arms, the only officially registered rescue vessel with a medical crew, which was currently making its way to rescue the final vessel, that “its presence is not necessary”.

In normal conditions. Assisting and completing the rescue of 1,000 people in different cases requires around 10-12 hours, but incredibly the Libyan motorboats, without auxilary vessels, with neither life jackets nor qualified staff, managed to carry out it in five hours.

This theatrical show cost the lifves of at least ten people, and one of the vessels with 120 people on board apparently has been lost. I say “apparently” because the Italian Coast Guard has not launched an emergency appeal, nor has the so-called Libyan Coat Guard, who have the duty of coordinating the rescue operations, having formally and officially closed the seven cases in question.


Òscar Camps


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

Translation by Richard Braude