The NGO MSF denounces threats by the Libyan Coast Guard during the rescue of 69 migrants.

Archive – Doctors Without Borders rescue ship Geo Barents – VINCENT HAIGES / MSF

The NGO Doctors Without Borders (MSF) has denounced Tuesday threats by the Libyan Coast Guard during a rescue of a boat with 69 migrants on board, including nine women and 25 minors, in international waters near Libya.

«When we were approaching the boat to rescue the people and take them to safety, they threatened to shoot us if we stayed in the area,» it has reported on Twitter, where it has posted a video in which the Coast Guard warns of possible deterrent shots if the rescue boat ‘Geo Barents’, of MSF, approaches.

The NGO has recounted that, during the maneuvers, one or more people jumped into the water. «Many survivors have told us in the past that the interceptions were violent and that they would rather die than return to the cycle of abuse in Libya,» it has added.

Later, MSF has assured that, despite «multiple interceptions» by the Coast Guard, the rescue of the migrants — among whom were two girls as young as five years old — was carried out «successfully.»

«Intercepting, forcibly returning people to Libya and threatening the civilian fleet is unfortunately a common practice in the Mediterranean, with the support of Italy and the European Union,» it has specified, adding that they will continue to provide «care for people in distress at sea.»