GNA Naval Force Deny Intercepting German Rescue Ship – Al Marsad

The Information and Culture Bureau (ICB) of the Libyan Naval Forces, affiliated with the UN-backed Presidential Council of the Government  of National Accord (GNA), issued a statement condemning what it said were “allegations made by an international NGO against the Libyan Naval Forces and its Coast Guard that one of its vessels was intercepted by an armed boat while it was rescuing migrants off the western coast of the country.”

[Libya, 29 October 2019] – The ICB said that an international non-governmental ship working off the coast of Libya, under the cover of rescuing migrants, named Alan Kurdi, tweeted that it was threatened by an armed boat while carrying out a rescue mission for migrants in the Mediterranean Sea off the Libyan coast.

The ICB statement comes in reply to allegations made by a German  non-governmental organization, named Sea-Eye, that one of its vessels, Alan Kurdi, was intimidated by what the NGO spokesperson described as “masked Libyan security forces who fired warning shots as it rescued 90 migrants from a lifeboat on Saturday.”

Gorden Isler, Sea-Eye spokesperson claimed that a Libyan armed boat arrived as the Alan Kurdi rescuers were handing life jackets to migrants in distress on a dinghy off the coast of Libya, and that the Libyan security elements circled the NGO ship, impeding the ongoing rescue efforts.

The German organization said that the intervention of armed Libyan elements caused panic among the migrants, prompting them to jump in the high sea for fear of being shot. The NGO alleged that the gunmen were able to detain some migrants, including women, with the aim of returning them to Libya. The pictures showed an armed boat that managed to detain some migrants, and they were published before the Libyan Naval Forces of the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) denied any involvement in the incident. It became an ‘unidentified’ boat just like the unknown fate that awaits the rescued immigrants who have been detained.

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“We, the Libyan Naval Forces and its Coast Guard, hereby, categorically deny any relationship whatsoever to this incident, and confirm that our patrols did not intercept, shoot, or threaten any naval piece of NGOs or others, and challenge the so called Alan Kurdi to come up with an evidence that refutes what we have mentioned. They will not be able to do so because we are genuinely certain of what we are saying, and we recognize that their unscrupulous statement is intended, as always, to discredit the image of the Libyan Coast Guard and the Libyan Navy and portray them as undisciplined and uncontrolled militia groups,” the GNA Naval Forces affirmed in its statement.

The ICB statement considered that the German NGO organization aims at exerting more pressure on the European side and the Italians in particular, to embarrass their governments in order to hinder what the ICB called ”the positive cooperation between these governments and the Libyan Navy and the Libyan Coast Guard, especially with regard to combating illegal immigration which has achieved many positive gains within that framework.”

The statement called on Libyan authorities to legally sue such “slander and allegations” and take the necessary political measures to address the concerned countries of these NGOs in order to curb their illegal actions. The ICB concluded its statement saying, “we will not give up our right to impose maritime sovereignty over all of our Libyan waters and deal positively with all those dealing with us on the basis of international maritime law, legislations, and regulations. International NGOs should abide by the Memorandum of Conduct on Libyan Waters if they wish to cooperate in the field of constructive humanitarian work which saves the lives of migrants and ensures the dignity of all the stakeholders who are keen to work together and cooperate for the sake of a safe Mediterranean Sea, and make it a sea of peace.”

© Al Marsad English (2019)



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