World Bulletin / News Desk
The German aid group Sea Eye on Sunday said it was suspending its migrant rescue operations in the Mediterranean, citing security concerns after Libya barred foreign vessels from a stretch of water off its coast.
In a statement, Sea Eye said it was with "a heavy heart" that it had decided to follow suit following the Libyan government's "explicit threat against the private NGOs".
Tensions have been on the rise since the Libyan navy on Thursday ordered foreign vessels to stay out of a coastal search and rescue zone, a measure it said was specifically aimed at non-governmental groups.
Libyan authorities have accused charities of aiding human smugglers with their rescues at sea, hampering efforts to crack down on the illegal migration route.
"Under these circumstances, a continuation of our rescue work is not currently possible. It would be irresponsible towards our crews," Sea Eye founder Michael Buschheuer said.
Italy, which has borne the brunt of Europe's migrant crisis this year, has also moved to rein in NGOs helping the multinational search and rescue operation by making them sign up to a new code of conduct.
Sea Eye said it would continue to monitor the "changed security situation" off the Libyan coast.
"We leave behind a deadly gap in the Mediterranean," Buschheuer warned.
Six years since a revolution that toppled longtime dictator Moamer Kadhafi, Libya has become a key departure point for migrants risking their lives to cross the Mediterranean to Europe.
Tens of thousands of migrants have resorted to paying people traffickers for the journey, often on overcrowded and unseaworthy boats.
Migrant aid ships have played a key role in assisting the rescue operations, and Sea Eye says it has helped save some 12,000 lives since April 2016.
Terrorists plotting attack on Turkish military bases have been hit
Pedro Pablo Kuczynski tenders his resignation a day before congress was due to start impeachment proceedings
"We were not as on top of a number of issues as we should have, whether it was Russian interference or fake news," CEO says
Palestinians protest outside America House in Ramallah to condemn US policy shift on Jerusalem
The United Nations' International Labour Organization rarely creates this type of probe, known as a Commission of Inquiry. The last case was launched against Zimbabwe in 2008.
Terrorist group still appears to maintain ‘sleeper cells’ in parts of Iraq, including Saladin, Diyala
Trump seeks more funding from kingdom; says 'they're going to give the United States some of that wealth'
Trump told reporters at the White House he had spoken with Putin, two days after the Russian strongman sailed to a fourth term as president, and with ties strained by the Cold War-style intrigue over the poisoning of an ex-spy in Britain.
At least seven others injured in attack near border with Colombia, army says
Terrorists were plotting attack, says Turkish military
The rare Senate vote addressing American war powers aims to shut down US military involvement in Yemen within a month unless Congress formally authorizes continued involvement.
The meeting of the world's leading economies in Buenos Aires comes days before US tariffs on steel and aluminum are due to come into force on Friday for all countries except Canada and Mexico.
Meeting cancelled after Russia, China, Kazakhstan and Bolivia voted ‘no’
'Despite the oppression they face, Iranians are fighting to reclaim their rights,' U.S. president says
Nearly 800 FARC militants assumed to be in Guaviare district where air force carried out strike