Spanish NGO says its ship seized by Libyan coastguards, ponders suspension of work

Libyan coastguard threatens Spanish NGO ships as tensions rise in Mediterranean (Photo: Internet)

The Spanish NGO Proactiva Open Arms announced Tuesday evening via social networks that its ship, Blue Gulf, had been seized for two hours by the Libya coastguard in international waters and forced to head to Libyan ones, ANSA reported Wednesday.

”Having been released, the Blue Gulf is sailing northwards,” it wrote, after ”almost two hours of being seized under serious threats and orders from the Libyan coastguard.” Proactiva, which is based in Barcelona, is one of the five NGOs that signed the Italian interior ministry’s Code of Conduct, ANSA wrote.

In the first message, which was posted around 7 PM, the organization wrote that the ”Blue Gulf has been seized in international waters by the Libyan coastguard”, noting that it had been ”forced to follow them into Libyan waters, threatening to shoot us if we did not follow the orders”.

On its Twitter profile, Proactiva Open Arms reported other episodes of tension with the Libyan coastguard. In a video dated August 9, shots can be heard being fired into the air during a recording of a conversation between the coastguard and the Blue Gulf, reported ANSA.

The Proactiva ship has been conducting search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean since 2016 and has in that time rescued about 18,000 people, ANSA added.

The SOS Mediterranèe’s ship, the Aquarius, is meanwhile heading towards the Italian port of Pozzallo, where it is expected to dock around 5 PM with 121 migrants onboard. MSF staff are onboard the ship, according to ANSA.

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