German NGO halts migrant rescue operations off Libya

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According to BuzzFeed News, however, things didn't go according to plan when the C-Star suffered mechanical failures off the coast of Libya.

"Under these circumstances, a continuation of our rescue work is not now possible".

MSF said Libyan authorities had announced the establishment of a search and rescue zone on Friday, and restricted access to humanitarian vessels into the global waters off the Libyan coast.

A spokesman for Sea-Eye, which has been accused of "colluding" with Libyan people smugglers, confirmed it was headed to the stranded ship.

Sea-Eye Chairman Michael Buschheuer said, "To help those who are in distress is the duty of everyone who is at sea - no matter their origins, skin color, religion or views".

The announcement comes a day after Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said it was halting the use of its largest boat in the area because of an "increasingly hostile environment for lifesaving rescue operations".

On August 11, the United Kingdom anti-extremism research and education group Hope Not Hate issued a formal complaint and request for an inspection of the ship in the wake of its technical failure, pointing out that this incident is further confirmation of what the organization has already reported - that the ship is ill-equipped to care for the migrants it claims it can rescue.

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"We leave behind a deadly gap in the Mediterranean", he warned.

Nearly 600,000 migrants have arrived in Italy over the past four years, the vast majority setting sail from lawless Libya in flimsy vessels operated by people smugglers.

The Libyan government "is ready to put in place a search-and-rescue zone in its waters, work with Europe and invest in its coast guards", Alfano told La Stampa daily on Sunday.

"This sends a signal that the balance is being restored in the Mediterranean".

According to The Independent more than 2,400 people have drowned so far this year as they attempt to cross from North Africa to Europe.

Tens of thousands of migrants have resorted to paying people traffickers for the journey, often on overcrowded and unseaworthy boats, and charities have dispatched ships to rescue them from drowning.

Tension has been growing for weeks between aid groups and the Italian government, which has suggested some NGOs are facilitating people smuggling and is trying to enhance the role of the Libyan coastguard in blocking migrant departures. "They said they don't need or want our help", Buschheuer said.

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