The non-governmental organization SOS Mediterranee, whose ship Ocean Viking rescues migrants in the Mediterranean, accused the Libyan coastguard on Saturday of “deliberately” endangering its teams and people in danger when it fired into the air to prevent a rescue. .

Ocean Viking was notified yesterday morning of a vessel carrying migrants in distress off the coast of Libya. When it approached, a Libyan coastguard patrol boat “arrived at the scene and came dangerously close to the Ocean Viking,” SOS Mediterranee said in a statement.

“All the team’s attempts to communicate with the Libyan coastguard by radio went unanswered, while the crew of the Libyan coastguard began to behave aggressively, threatening with weapons and firing several times in the air,” the NGO added.

The Ocean Viking moved away from the scene, “while the Libyan coast guard continued to fire,” he noted.

SOS Mediterranee also assured that another NGO, Sea Watch – which reported the same incident in its own statement – ​​was able to locate the migrants who had fallen overboard from the dinghy with an aircraft and eventually rescue them.

According to SOS Mediterranee, around 80 migrants were arrested by the Libyan coast guard and sent back to the country.

The NGO had pointed out in January that the Libyan coast guard had obstructed another rescue operation of the Ocean Viking, “deliberately endangering the lives of people in danger at sea”.

At the end of 2022, organizations operating in the Mediterranean had estimated at around 100,000 the number of migrants apprehended by the Libyan coast guard since the signing of the agreement between Libya, Italy and the EU in 2017. It provides that Rome and Brussels will train and equip the Libyan coast guard so that it can arrest the migrants who depart from the shores of the country bound for Europe.

The Central Mediterranean is the world’s most dangerous migration route, according to the International Organization for Migration, which estimates 1,417 migrants lost there in 2022.