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Portuguese-flagged ship returns refugees to Libya

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Portuguese-flagged ship returns refugees to Libya

Alfredo Maia

Yesterday at 11:57 pm

The Portuguese-flagged container ship Anne docked yesterday afternoon at the port of Lymra, where 100 refugees collected Monday in the Central Mediterranean would have landed, despite Libya being an unsafe country.

The refugee support collective Humans Before Borders (HuBB) has warned the German company that owns the boat, Jens & Aller, and the Portuguese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MNE) that the landing in Libya "represents a serious violation of international treaties" and criminal law.

HuBB, based in Portugal, said it had maintained contacts with those responsible for the ship on board, who were in communication with the Portuguese, Maltese and Libyan authorities to find a solution for the refugees, one of whom was injured and in need of medical care.

The day before yesterday, Minister Augusto Santos Silva told Lusa that the MNE has "every interest" in investigating "everything that happened, to find out if a Portuguese-flagged vessel was involuntarily involved in an operation that would not be in conformity with international law" .

At that time, the news indicated that the rescued were transferred to a Libyan Navy ship and Santos Silva considered that the "Anne" "strictly fulfilled, and indeed exemplarily, all its international obligations".

"The ship was en route from Malta to Libya, to transport goods, and received an order from the Malta rescue center to rescue a group of people who were on very precarious boats at risk of sinking. The ship immediately complied that order and rescued about 100 people, "he explained.

Then he received "clear instructions" to "continue his route and transfer people to a Libyan Navy ship", and "not return to Malta," added Santos Silva, who was "not 100% sure" that the instructions are contrary to international law and the "ban on the mass resentment of refugees or asylum seekers from unsafe places where they may be at serious risk".

The MNE did not respond to JN's request for clarification.

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