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Stranded anti-migrant ship refuses help from migrant rescue vessel

The anti-migrant activists on board the ship said it was just a “minor technical problem”.

Defend Europe The C-Star vessel, owned by the organisation Defend Europe. Source: Twitter/Defend Europe

A GERMAN RESCUE ship says that anti-immigration activists whose boat had run into trouble in the Mediterranean have refused their help.

The C-Star, which has vowed to expose what it describes as “collaboration” between privately-funded rescue ships and people traffickers, said on Twitter it had “developed a minor technical problem during the night”, leaving it adrift but not in distress.

Tweet by @Defend Europe Source: Defend Europe/Twitter

Germany’s Sea-Eye, one of nine NGOs involved in migrant search and rescue (SAR) operations and a target of the C-Star’s campaign, said it had been “asked by the MRCC (the Italian command centre) to assist the ship”.

It had rushed to the location, only to be refused.

The Italian coast guard could not be reached for a comment.

C-Star

The C-Star has been plagued with problems since its mission began last month. It was initially refused permission to travel through the Suez Canal, before later being blocked over legal questions in Cyprus.

After finally making it to Libya’s SAR zone, it needed to refuel but found itself stuck off the coast of Tunisia earlier this week after fishermen and a powerful Tunisian union refused to allow passage.

French activist Clement Galand sent a message to AFP overnight saying the boat “has been refuelled, everything is fine, we will return to the search and rescue zone” off Libya.

But by this morning the activists said a technical problem had forced them to turn off the ship’s engine and inform other vessels in the area.

The ship has been off the radar on maritime traffic sites since Wednesday. Galand said the ship was currently “between Malta and the Libyan coast”.

The 40-metre long ship, which is flying under a Mongolian flag, is leased by the far-right group Generation Identity.

Funded by Internet-collected donations of more than €180,000, the Austrian, French, German and Italian activists on board have vowed to ensure migrants rescued at sea off Libya be returned to Africa.

Two NGO ships were badgered at sea by the C-Star last week with a radio message telling them to “leave the rescue zone” and “stop acting as an incentive for human traffickers”.

The message echoed one transmitted yesterday by the Libyan navy, which has banned any unauthorised foreign ships from entering the SAR zone off its coast.

- With reporting from Gráinne Ní Aodha

Read: At least 56 people die after human traffickers force 300 off boats and into the sea

Read: The Irish navy rescued 149 migrants on a rubber dinghy in the Mediterranean this morning

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