Early Wednesday morning, Libya’s coast guard reportedly issued numerous threats against the rescue ship Sea-Eye 4 in the Mediterranean, urging it to leave "Libyan territory." However, Sea-Eye says that the vessel was in international waters at the time, where ships are allowed to move freely.
A Libyan warship with the number 660 circled around the Sea-Eye 4 for at total of 50 minutes, keeping a distance of about 500 meters, Sea-Eye said in a press release. During this time, it repeated its threats several times before eventually leaving.
The Sea-Eye 4 says it has informed the Maritime Distress Control Center in Rome as well as German authorities about the incident at sea.
Libya's coast guard has in the past repeatedly issued threatening remarks directed at rescue ships in recent years, and on one occasion even has fired warning shots at another rescue vessel, the Sea-Watch 4.
EU 'must stop' supporting Libya's coast guard
Ongoing rescue missions have repeatedly been disrupted by coast guard officials, resulting in some instances in people drowning in Mediterranean waters.
Gorden Isler, chairman of Sea-Eye, criticized the EU for its ongoing financial and operational support of Libya's coast guard: "EU member states are funding the so-called Libyan Coast Guard to keep people from fleeing Libya. In doing so, these EU states are supporting violent and unpredictable actors. These unscrupulous militias are a political tool.
"Every time the so-called Libyan coast guard drags people back into civil war, obstructs rescues or threatens sea rescuers, EU member states must accept a significant share of responsibility for these crimes. The EU must stop cooperating with the so-called Libyan coast guard and ensure safe escape routes for all people seeking protection."