Libyan coastguards being made to do EU “dirty work”, aid agency claims

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Migrants return to Libyan ports

The arrest of five migrants who hijacked a boat that rescued them highlights the failure of the European Union to take responsibility for migrant safety, the aid agency Médecins sans Frontières has said.

Those arrested apparently took control of the “El Hiblu” to stop it from taking them back to Libya. Aid groups say the migrants were acting in self-defence.

The EU announced this week that is pulling its rescue boats from the Mediterranean. And Hassiba Hadj-Sahraoui, Humanitarian Affairs Adviser at Medecins sans Frontieres, said the move revealed a crisis of European values.

“The conditions of detention in Libya are inhumane,” she told Good Morning Europe.

“People are held for long periods of time with no idea of any process. They’re abused, they’re subjected to all sorts of extortion, forced labour and torture.

“What we see is the European Union trying to bypass its international obligations by trying to circumvent international law and to rely on the Libyan coastguard to do the dirty work for them.”

She said EU leaders needed to take responsibility for the situation, despite the rise in countries such as Italy of political parties opposed to immigration.

“The decision should not be around saving lives or not saving lives,” said. “This is not negotiable. We do rescue people out of the water. The frustration of Italy is that as a frontline country they have been left alone having to respond to the arrival of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers. Other European countries didn’t carry their fair share, they did not accept relocations. If anything, this crisis is emblematic of the crisis of the European Union and the values of the European Union. Are we going to negotiate now whether saving lives is a duty or not?”

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