I help rescue migrants in the Mediterranean. Here’s why we won’t cooperate with the Libya coast guards


Europe has backtracked from its moral duty to provide safety and rescue to people running away from the hell of Libyan prisons, deciding instead to cooperate with smugglers, militias and traffickers

Valeria Alice Colombo

Rescuing in the Mediterranean Sea is not the same as rescuing in other waters. It has become an act subject to suspicion and defiance from European authorities.

Attempts are made to disincentivize our actions, and the most vulnerable are targeted. Many of the people rescued by NGO ships in the last year have been punished with weeks of waiting at sea, on overcrowded boats in critical conditions, with unnecessary delays in granting a safe port at which to disembark.

All of this has happened because we firmly refuse to bring the rescued back to Libya.

“The Libyan coastguard is doing a good job and we will keep supporting them,” declared the new Italian minister of Interior Luciana Lamorgese in September, straight after a meeting with her German and French counterparts in Malta.

However, those of us who are conducting rescues in the central Mediterranean refuse cooperation with the so-called Libyan Coast Guard for good reason: because we know who they are, and what they are capable of.

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