Brussels (People’s Daily) - A cargo ship has been hijacked by more than 100 migrants it rescued in the Mediterranean Sea, Euronews reports today.
(Photo: Maritime Bulletin)
The ship, which is identified as the Turkish oil tanker El Hiblu 1, was enroute to Libya after it intercepted a boat carrying 108 migrants on Wednesday.
By Thursday morning, the ship had reached Maltese waters, and was later boarded by local authorities, according to a government statement.
The ship's captain said he had been threatened by the migrants and ordered to change course to Malta.
Italy’s interior minister, Matteo Salvini, described the incident as “the first act of piracy on the high seas by migrants” as alleged hijackers, reported the ANSA news agency.
The 108 men and women who overpowered a motor tanker that was about to take them back to Libya against their will, were acting in self-defense, said Johannes Bayer, chairman of rescue NGO Sea-Watch.
But the European Union is facilitating this illegal “refoulement” by financing the Libyan coast-guard to intercept boat migrants at sea and to force commercial vessels to return rescued migrants to the Libyan navy, Sea-Watch said.
Mass migration to Europe has dropped sharply since 2015, when the continent received 1 million refugees and migrants from countries in the Middle East, Asia and Africa. The surge created a humanitarian crisis in which desperate travelers frequently drowned and leading arrival spots such as Italy and Greece struggled to house large numbers of asylum-seekers.
EU officials on Wednesday lamented the move, while Amnesty International and other groups responded by reiterating its view that Europe’s collaboration with Libya to stem migration was a human rights outrage.