Coming after the already shocking news of a weekend of desperate attempts to smuggle thousands into the European Union by sea, resulting in the deaths of at least 400, it has emerged that people smugglers fired on a coastguard ship attempting to save lives.
The ICGV Týr, former flagship of the Icelandic coastguard and veteran of the ‘Cod Wars’ fishing rights disputes with the United Kingdom, was rescuing migrants from an unseaworthy wooden boat when they came under fire. Apparently waiting for the human cargo to be taken off the ship and loaded safely onto the coastguard vessel, smugglers aboard a speedboat charged and fired shots into the air, in an attempt to recover their wooden boat.
A spokesman for the European Union borders agency which is funding the Mediterranean rescue mission said of the incident: “This is a sign that smugglers in Libya are running short of boats and are more willing to use weapons to recover those used to transport the migrants”, reports theLocal.it.
This incident was almost identical to another reported on by Breitbart London in Feburary. Again the smugglers lay in wait for the refugees to be taken off before firing at what was an Italian coastguard vessel, capturing back their dangerous vessel and towing it back to Libya. Unlike the Icelanders, Italian Coastguard ships were completely unarmed and unable to resist the people traffickers.
Shock at the attack against the Italian craft on a humanitarian mission led to the Italian government changing the rules and issuing the coastguard with weapons. Although the Icelandic Týr was armed with 1940s-era anti-aircraft cannon, it did not return fire.
This weekend has been called a taste of things to come. The good return of good weather encourages yet more to make the perilous journey from North Africa and the Levant to Southern Europe by sea, safe in the knowledge that the European Union is waiting to assist their journey and bring them to shore. The Royal Navy withdrew its support for the mission last year, arguing that the presence of a comprehensive Mediterranean ‘safety net’ encouraged reckless behaviour – and tens of thousands of refugees to attempt the journey.
That 6,000 migrants were ‘rescued’ over the course of the weekend adds credence to the belief that 2015 will once again be a record-breaking year for migration to the European Union by refugees. It is thought 170,000 refugees attempted to reach Europe by boat last year.