NGOs halt migrant rescue operations, citing Libya 'threat'

Anti-migrant ship Defend Europe rescued in Mediterranean after issuing distress call

In an owning of comical, corncob proportions, a group of far-right YouTubers sailing around the Mediterranean Sea to "defend Europe" from nongovernmental refugee organizations has received assistance from, none other than, one of those organizations.

"Even if they were 13 nautical miles away, they were still within the premise of Libyan search and rescue operations".

Tensions have been on the rise since the Libyan navy on August 10 ordered foreign vessels to stay out of a coastal search and rescue zone, a measure it said was specifically aimed at non-governmental groups.

He said MSF would continue its collaboration with another aid group, SOS Mediterranee, which operates a rescue ship in the Mediterranean with MSF doctors on board.

Nearly 600,000 migrants have arrived in Italy over the past four years, the vast majority setting sail from lawless Libya in flimsy vessels operated by people smugglers.

Libya and Italy - where the vast majority of migrants land - have worked together to stem the flow, with Italy also moving to rein in NGOs helping the multinational rescue operations by making them sign up to a new code of conduct.

"We want to send out a clear message to all those who infringe Libyan sovereignty and lack respect for the coastguard and navy", said its naval spokesman General Ayoub Qassemhe.

The workers manning the boat didn't think twice about rescuing a bunch of alt-right creeps who meant to do harm to the vulnerable people the Sea-Eye swore to protect.

United States warns North Korea to avoid destruction of its people
Meanwhile, France is urging all sides "to act responsibly and to de-escalate" tensions over North Korea's nuclear ambitions. The two discussed responses to North Korean provocations and the security situation on the Korean peninsula, he said.

Germany-based Sea-Eye said it made the decision to halt its water rescues "with a heavy heart", but for the sake of its crew's safety.

"Under these circumstances, a continuation of our rescue work is not now possible".

"To help a ship in distress in the duty of anyone at sea, without regard for their origin, race, religion or beliefs", Sea-Eye Chairman Michael Buschheuer said.

A day earlier, NGO Doctors Without Borders similarly cited Libyan threats in saying it's suspending sea rescue activities.

Tension has also been growing for weeks between aid groups and the Italian government, which has suggested some NGOs are facilitating people smuggling, while Italy is trying to enhance the role of the Libyan coastguard in blocking migrant departures.

Sea Eye said it has helped save some 12,000 lives since April 2016, and cautioned Sunday that the retreat of aid groups from Libya's coast was putting lives at risk. "If humanitarian ships are pushed out of the Mediterranean, there will be fewer ships in the area to rescue people from drowning", warned Annemarie Loof, MSF's operational manager.

The number of migrant arrivals in Italy in July was down dramatically on the same month past year, suggesting efforts to train up and better equip Libya's coastguard could already be having an impact.

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