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EU Should Carefully Consider Training Libyan Forces, Says German Group

(Author: Libyan Gazette Editorial Staff)

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On Tuesday, German humanitarian group Sea-Watch requested the European Union to refrain from offering Libyan forces training on how to operate rescue missions. The request from the German group came after individuals on board a boat with “Libyan Coast Guard” labeled on its side attacked a dinghy carrying about 150 people of refugees on Friday.

The Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre in Rome alerted Sea-Watch on Friday of a boat in distress. Upon arrival to the scene, Sea-Watch found 150 refugees crowded on a dinghy, according to Ruben Neugebauer, a spokesperson for Sea-Watch.

About four refugees are confirmed dead and 15 others went missing after the attack.

The German humanitarians released photos that show what seems to be a Libyan coast guard boat carrying about 15 armed crew members attacking the dinghy. One of the crew members was shown walking around in the dinghy while another member was compromising the front of the already weak vessel.  

Moments later, the dinghy collapsed and fearful refugees anxiously made their way towards the German vessel. 120 refugees were rescued and four bodies were later recovered from the Mediterranean Sea.

According to satellite tracking data, the attack took place in international waters about 3 nautical miles from Libyan waters, said Sea-Watch.

Sea-Watch emphasized that the EU must thoroughly inquire about those that it provides training and equipment to as the attack late last week indicates how detrimental it can be if the wrong group is given access to such training and equipment.   

“We have called on them (the EU) to reconsider the training missions. We fear that in the course of this cooperation (with the Libyan coast guard) much more terrible things will happen,” said Neugebauer.

Neugebauer added that it is unclear whether or not the group that attacked the dinghy belonged to the Libyan armed forces though they were operating a Libyan Coast Guard boat.

Following the arrival of the refugees, an investigation has been opened by a court in Palermo, Sicily, according to the German group.

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