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Tunisian fishermen block 'racist' anti-migrant boat from docking

08 Août 2017

Generation Identity is the name of the group that chartered the C-Star.

On its official Facebook page the union is calling for its workers and employees at all Tunisian ports to prevent the C-Star from docking. Us let in racists here?

Fishermen and human rights activists in the Tunisian city of Zarzis unfurled a banner reading "No Racism" as the C Star, the flagship of operation Defend Europe, sailed in global waters off Tunisia's coast over the weekend.

The ship recently tailed the Aquarius, a rescue boat operated by French group SOS Mediterranee, as it did its patrols in an area known for migrant boat sinkings.

The C-Star headed straight from Cyprus to Libyan waters after being discouraged from attempting to dock en route in Greece and Sicily, with authorities concerned about the prospect of protests.

The self-styled "Defend Europe" mission has not got off to the best of starts.

Their boat was held up for a week in the Suez Canal by Egyptian authorities looking for weapons.

Following the search, the ship arrived at the Cypriot port of Famagusta last month, where several of its crew ironically jumped ship and asked for asylum in Europe.

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Humanitarian organisations operating the rescue boats have branded Defend Europe a potentially unsafe stunt.

The far-right activists say their goal is to expose collaboration between NGO rescue ships and traffickers who launch boats from Libya packed with migrants.

Anti-immigration activists in Europe are trying to disrupt the flow of migrant boats from north Africa to Europe.

Italian authorities last week impounded one NGO boat, the Iuventa, which is operated by German association Jugend Rettet.

On Sunday, the Aquarius and Doctors without Borders took part in a rescue operation in which around 100 people were plucked from a distressed dinghy.

The Libyan navy told AFP that between Thursday and Saturday the coastguard, which has received training and new equipment from Rome, had intercepted five trafficker boats carrying a total of 878 people.

Italian officials defend the strategy as the only way to end a humanitarian crisis threatening to overwhelm the country's reception facilities.

The crisis has also caused strains in Rome's relations with its European Union neighbours, who have blocked migrants landing in Italy from travelling further north.

Tunisian fishermen block 'racist' anti-migrant boat from docking