A German NGO vessel that has saved the lives of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean rescued far-right, anti-immigration activists this weekend. The group’s ship had difficulties off the coast of Libya, leaving them stranded.
Members of the extremist Generation Identity group sent a distress signal after an engine failure left the ship, called the C-Star, unable to maneuver. The German NGO Sea Eye sent one of its search and rescue boats to help.
Michael Busch Heuer, who founded Sea Eye, a Regensburg-based aid organization, said that it was the duty of anyone at sea “to help those in distress, irrespective of their origin, color, religion or beliefs” reports The Guardian. Sea Eye has operated two rescue vessels in the Mediterranean since 2016.
Sea Eye said in a statement on their Facebook page that Operation Sophia, the joint EU naval operation deterring migrant smugglers and human traffickers in the Mediterranean, alerted Sea Eye to the C-Star’s issue. Since they were the closest to the C-star, they were instructed to go to its aid.
Generation Identity, writes The Guardian, “downplayed the accident,” calling it a “minor technical problem.”
— Defend Europe (@DefendEuropeID) August 11, 2017
According to The Guardian, Defend Europe charted the C-Star in Djibouti last month. The group raised about $88,000 through crowdfunding. They originally promised to actively block migrant boats, but now says it is “monitoring” rescues in the Mediterranean. The group is part of a five-year-old movement of “young, far-right activists from France, Germany, Austria, Italy and the UK who are opposed to Islam and immigration.”
The C-Star has seen limited success though. The Guardian reports that it was held up for a week in the Suez canal by Egyptian authorities and had several Sri Lankan crew members jump ship in the Cypriot port of Famagusta. It was also prevented by Tunisian fisherman from putting into the port of Zarzis for supplies.
The Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights, a local NGO, called on its government to“not to cooperate with its racist and dangerous crew,” writes The Guardian, and said it would oppose any attempt by the C-Star to dock and get new supplies.
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