The British newspaper “The Guardian” revealed leaked calls between officials of the Italian Coast Guard and officials of the Libyan Coast Guard, indicating that migrants in the Mediterranean Sea “were left to die.”
According to the newspaper, at 8:18 am on Friday June 16, 2017, the Libyan Coast Guard officer, Colonel Masoud Abdel Samad, received a phone call from an Italian coastguard official telling him that 10 migrant boats had fallen into distress, and many of them were in the water. Libyan regionalism.
Later that day, Abd al-Samad claimed that his men had rescued many of the distressed migrants. According to data compiled by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), by the end of the week, 126 people had died at sea.
In February of that year, Europe ceded responsibility for overseeing rescue operations in the Mediterranean to Libya as part of an agreement between Italy and Libya aimed at curbing migrant flows across the sea.
The conversation, recorded by Sicily prosecutors to investigate maritime rescue societies for alleged complicity in human smuggling, reveals the indifference of individuals on the Libyan side with the plight of migrants and international law, according to the newspaper.
The text of the call, according to the “Guardian”, is “one of several texts that were uncovered for wiretapping operations of Libyan Coast Guard officials, and it was contained in a leaked file of 30,000 pages, worked on by the Italian prosecution,” and seen by the Guardian.
This information is being published as part of a joint investigation by the “Guardian”, the Italian public broadcaster “Rai News” and the newspaper “Domani”. It appears that the Italian authorities were aware that the Libyan authorities were either unwilling or unable to take care of migrant boats at sea, even as Italy launched investigations into the role of NGO boats at sea that prevented NGOs from carrying out private rescue operations.
Between 22 and 27 March 2017, hundreds of people who set off from Sabratha, Libya, requested assistance from the Italian Maritime Rescue Coordination Center. The texts show that Italian officials tried to contact Abdel Samad and two other Libyan officials at least several times, but in many cases the “result was negative.”
The Italian authorities eventually lost contact with the boats. On March 29, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees confirmed that 146 people, including children and pregnant women, had drowned.
In another incident, on May 24, 2017, two boats leaving Libya, carrying hundreds of people, were damaged and one of them capsized. The people on the boat called the Italian Coast Guard, who called Abdul Samad 55 times without receiving a response. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 33 people drowned on that day.
The British Guardian newspaper contacted Abdul Samad to respond to these allegations. He said that he was “unable to answer any questions related to the events of 2017, because it will be difficult to find records of these events.”
Abdel Samad explained that communications with his Italian counterparts “do not always work well, and that there are communication problems in Libya that cause frequent interruptions.” “Libya is a country that has suffered from the war,” he added.
It is noteworthy that the public prosecutors in Sicily have not brought any charges against any Libyan official, and the Italian Ministry of Justice announced last week that it had sent inspectors to Trapani in Sicily to “conduct the necessary preliminary investigations as quickly as possible.”
Source: The Guardian