By Libya Herald reporter.
Tripoli, 18 May 2017:
Over 500 migrants whose boats were in difficulty were rescued this morning in two separate operations by the Libyan coastguard.
According to Commodore Ayoub Qasim, the Libyan naval spokesman, some 400 people aboard what he called a “rowing boat” were rescued off Sabratha, 80 kilometres east of Tripoli. Another 120 were rescued off Garabulli, 60 kilometres east of the capital.
At a press conference to announce the rescues, Qasim again defended the conduct of the coastguard in the dispute with German NGO Sea-Watch which has accused it of interfering in a rescue operation, endangering the lives of its own crew as well as of some 500 migrants it was trying to rescue.
Qasim again claimed that the incident took place in Libyan waters, something Sea-Watch denies. He also claimed that the coastguard boat had been in touch with Sea-Watch during the rescue. It, he said, had told Sea-Watch that with some 500 migrants involved there were too many people for it to rescue. He alleged that it had then replied that it was going to give the boat people life vests and wait for another vessel to pick them up. He claimed there was not enough time for this.