NGO migrant boats have been ordered to stay out of Libyan waters in a move that could drastically reduce the number of refugees arriving in Europe.
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The Libyan navy has issued a no-nonsense statement urging NGO boats to respect the country’s territorial sovereignty – “No foreign ship has the right to enter,” said General Abdelhakim Bouhaliya.
Ayoub Qassem, a Libyan navy spokesman, said the move targeted “NGOs which pretend to want to rescue illegal migrants and carry out humanitarian actions”.
Hundreds of thousands of migrants have set sail from Libya to Italy in recent years, bringing the country to its knees.
Italian authorities impounded a boat operated by German aid organisation Jugend Rettet and accused its crew of collaborating with people traffickers to facilitate illegal immigration.
As long as NGO boats sail into Libyan waters, pick migrants up and bring them to Europe, people are going to carry on getting into makeshift boats and drifting out to sea. It costs lives, puts money in the hands of people smugglers and exacerbates the migrant crisis.