Turkish Cypriots detain anti-migrant boat
NICOSIATurkish Cypriot authorities have blocked a vessel hired by far-right activists to prevent would-be migrants from reaching Europe and detained its captain, the group and local media reported on July 26.
The captain and his second-in-command were taken into custody while the ship was stopped at the Turkish Cypriot port of Famagusta, Kıbrıs Postasi daily said.
The two men are suspected of having “false documents,” the daily said, without elaborating.
It was not clear where the rest of the boat’s crew were.
The “Defend Europe” scheme was announced by anti-immigration campaigners from France, Italy and Germany after crowd-funding 76,000 euros ($87,000) needed to hire the vessel.
The far-right group, which calls itself “Generation Identity” (GI), said the 40-meter boat left Djibouti in early July.
It said the vessel was stuck for a week in the Suez Canal after “left-wing movements and NGOs accused them of transporting arms and mercenaries in a bid to prevent their mission.”
A search by the Egyptian authorities turned up nothing, the group said.
The aim of the GI initiative, which has been widely criticized by NGOs, is that migrants are returned to Libya.
“When boats full of illegal migrants cross, our mission is to call the Libyan coastguard so that they can come and rescue them,” organizer Clement Galant said earlier this month.
He added that they planned to “expose the true face of so-called humanitarian organizations, their collaboration with smuggling mafias, and the deadly consequences of their actions at sea.”
The group said “false accusations” awaited them in Famagusta, and that they were accused of transporting illegal migrants.
GI said these were Sri Lankan crewmen under training who had now left the ship.
More than 100,000 migrants have crossed the dangerous Mediterranean route to Europe this year, the United Nations said on July 4.
Nearly 2,250 people have died in 2017 attempting the sea crossing from North Africa.