Mediterranea Asks for the Immediate Evacuation for the Refugees On Board the Nivin Ship in Misrata. Their Lives Are in the Hands of Italy and the EU.


The dozens of people barricaded inside the cargo ship Nivin have to choose between facing violence on board the ship or being brought back to the Libyan detention centers where they will certainly be tortured, starved, raped, and abused in ways that are hardly imaginable.  

It seems however like the 94 refugees in the ship know what their best option is. They are mainly Eritrean and Sudanese and, as such, in Europe they would be extremely likely to be granted international protection as victims of persecutions or serious violence.

They have been refusing to disembark after the cargo ship Nivin docked in the port of Misrata on November 10. The ship’s crew had rescued them two days earlier and brought them back to Libya following the orders of the Libyan, Italian and Maltese authorities. Only 14 people including a mother and baby and some minors agreed to leave the ship knowing they would be locked up again in the Libyan detention centers.

All the others do not intend to surrender because Libya is an extremely dangerous country, as reported by the few aid workers allowed on board. It is a country where they already endured great suffering after having been caught at sea again and again and brought back to the detention centers by the so-called Libyan coastguard. In those places, many of them already lost a brother or a friend. They prefer to die: You can take my dead body off this ship, but I will not go back to Libya.

What would you do? Would you not resist until the very end to claim your dignity as a human being, to keep believing that there is a way out, even just for one more minute?

When confronted with extreme choices, ones that no one should ever be forced to make, you only have extreme solutions, ones that no one should ever be forced to opt for.

The few aid workers who are present in Libya fear a bloodbath. Having put up a form of resistance, these refugees may now be treated as pirates or terrorists, against whom it is possible to exert violence.

Who will be held responsible if these people die to resist? Who broke the law? What kind of law are we talking about?

The Italian authorities have been implicated in the case since its early stages. On behalf of the Libyan coastguard, they ordered the Ninvin to divert its course, carry out the rescue, and get in contact with the JRCC Libya through the IMRCC Rome (the Italian Maritime Rescue Coordination Center).

Mediterranea has acquired first-hand information on the case through the direct communications that we established with the Commander and the owner of the Nivin. The rubber dinghy the migrants were picked up from turned out to be the same that Alarm Phone had already launch an alert for on the night of November 7. The Mare Jonio communicated to the MRCC Rome that we were ready for any possible intervention.

Because of legal anomalies, such as the 2017 Italy-Libya Memorandum of Understanding, or the recognition of the Libyan Search and Rescue (SAR) zone, where operations are formally co-ordinated by Libya, Italy has so far avoided any legal conviction.

But Libya is not a port of safety, and bringing people back from international waters to a place where they might die or face inhumane or degrading treatment, besides violating the law of the sea, is in breach of the principle of non-refoulement.

The repeated capture, detention, and torture of tens of thousands of people committed by the Libyans in the past year and a half would have not been possible if Italy had not provided speedboats, trained the coastguard personnel, and constantly legitimized the Libyan authority describing a country torn by civil war as a stable and measured ally.

The EU and Italy will be responsible for the violence that is going to be inflicted on the people aboard the Nivin. They forced these men, women and unaccompanied children to choose between torture and death.

The only solution is to evacuate immediately the refugees and allow them to reach Europe in all safety. This would also set free the Nivins crew, who have just followed orders and who have been stuck, for several days, in a terribly dangerous situation.

Mediterranea’s land and sea platform firmly asks the Italian Foreign Ministry, and the EU governments and institutions to do something. Before it is too late.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mediterranea denuncia – Navin 16.11-1