Anti-migrant boat refuses NGO rescue
A boatload of white nationalists trying to stop migrants from reaching Europe by monitoring and disrupting humanitarian vessels has refused assistance from a humanitarian mission, deployed to rescue migrants.
The “identitarians” from the group Generation Identity have suffered a series of misfortunes.
On Friday, a European naval plane noticed the C-Star in apparent trouble with its engine turned off outside Libyan waters. The authorities reported the vessel to its nearest vessel: a migrant rescue ship.
“They refused our help,” said Michael Buschheuer of the Sea Eye, a ship chartered by a German NGO to rescue migrants. “So we just passed them and went on to our normal working day, which means keeping an eye on people who are really in distress.”
Generation Identity posted on Facebook that the ship’s crew wanted to shut down its engine and were not in distress.
The group tweeted that the C-Star was “having technical difficulty. We’re resolving it. No distress. #DefendEurope”.
The ship, covered with banners reading “Defend Europe” and “No way. You will not make Europe home”, missed its planned media launch when the Egyptian authorities held it for a week in the Suez Canal to search for weapons.
Then the group’s Italian leader missed his plane to Sicily, where the boat planned to depart and some of the Sri Lankan crew recruited to stop migrants themselves sought asylum when they docked in Cyprus.
After leaving Cyprus on August 1 and being advised not to dock in Greece or Sicily for fear of protests, the Mongolian flagged ship was prevented by Tunisian fishermen from docking in Zarzis for supplies.
“If they come here, we’ll block the refuelling channel,” said Chamseddine Bourassine, a fishermen’s representative. “It is the least we can do given what is happening out in the Mediterranean. Muslims and Africans are dying.”
The Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights NGO said it would oppose any attempt by the C-Star to land and take on supplies of fuel, food and water from any Tunisian port. It called on the authorities in Tunis “not to cooperate with its racist and dangerous crew”.
Defend Europe chartered the vessel in Djibouti last month after raising €75,000 through crowdfunding. After originally promising to actively block migrant boats, it now says it is “monitoring” Mediterranean rescue efforts.
The group is part of a five-year-old movement of young, right-wing nationalists from France, Germany, Austria, Italy and the UK who are opposed to Islam and immigration. It says NGOs that have rescued about one-third of the nearly 100,000 people helped in the Mediterranean this year are working with people smugglers to bring migrants to Europe.
Katie Hopkins, the outspoken British MailOnline columnist, met members of the group in Sicily and tweeted: “Good to meet Team C-Star @DefendEuropeID. Young people, eight nations, crowdfunded, shining a light on NGO people traffickers in Med.”
The C-Star. Picture credit: YouTube