Italian Supply Vessel Rescues 65 Migrants Off Libyan Coast


On Saturday, an Italian offshore supply vessel rescued 65 migrants, fleeing Libya to Europe on a crowded, wooden boat. The rescued migrants included women and children.

After its engine stopped operating, the migrant boat was found by the Seabird, a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), tracking aircrafts flying across the Central Mediterranean. The migrants did not wear life jackets and were finally rescued by the Asso Ventinove supply vessel near the Bouri oilfield following a request to do so from the Seabird.

Shortly thereafter a Libyan coast guard vessel came to the scene to check the empty boat. It is common for Libyan authorities to retrieve engines following rescues.

The Asso Ventinove said that all rescued individuals, including five children, were not injured. The Captain said he was waiting for orders from a rescue and coordinating centre in Rome to assign them a safe place to disembark.

As of this year, around 44,000 people have come from Tunisia and Libya to the European shore through the Central Mediterranean, often with smugglers who put them on unsafe boats. Approximately half of those arriving landed on an Italian island closer to North Africa than Italy, Lampedusa.

Notably, on Friday evening Libyan authorities arbitrarily detained at least 500 African migrants, including women and children, two officials and a refugee group claimed.

Libya’s Interior Ministry said the migrants were rounded up in the western town of Gargaresh and were taken to detention centres in Tripoli. According to human rights activists these places are rife with abuse and migrants are kept in miserable conditions.

The Ministry did not say how many migrants were detained. Gargaresh, a well-known hub for migrants and refugees, is about 12 kilometres (7.5 miles) West of Tripoli, the Libyan capital.