Not Piracy But 'A Matter of Survival': Refugees Take Control of Ship Headed Back to 'Hell' in Libya
Human rights advocates and other critics on Thursday called for empathy and aid for more than 100 refugees who took control of a tanker that had picked them up in the Mediterranean this week.
The group reportedly commandeered the ship, a tanker name El Hiblu 1, and turn it toward Europe after realizing it was headed back to Libya, the country they had just left in hopes that they would be able to seek asylum in Europe. As the refugees were detained after arriving at a Maltese port Thursday, they were referred to as “pirates” by media outlets.
Far-right Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini denounced the 108 refugees’ desperate attempt to continue their journey as planned as “an act of piracy,” leading to condemnation from rights groups.
“Imagine escaping from a concentration camp,” wrote the rescue group Mediterranea Saving Humans on social media. “During the escape they catch you and want to bring you back. Would you rebel? So they made the ‘pirates’ of the freighter El Hiblu 1, to save themselves and their children. Imagine, then judge.”
“In the name of fundamental rights, [remember] that we are dealing with human beings fleeing hell,” the group added.
Medicins Sans Frontiers, also known as Doctors Without Borders, wrote that the “desperate and dangerous situation” underscored “the broken system at sea and the despair of vulnerable people.”