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.
New offensive, reportedly to launch Saturday, aims to drive fighters from their strongholds
In big win for Nigeria’s anti-corruption campaign, official sentenced over abuse of office totaling $4.4M
PM Mariano Rajoy says he will trigger Article 155 of Spanish constitution, which gives Madrid control of Catalonia
On Friday, Iraqi government forces wrested control of kıirkuk's northern Altunkopru sub-district from Peshmerga
Statement from US Embassy in Ankara comes after Pentagon condemns raising of banner of Abdullah Ocalan in Raqqah
Chancellor-designate Sebastian Kurz has not ruled out ruling coalition with anti-immigrant Freedom Party
Law forces removal of niqabs, burkas while riding municipal buses
Army also takes 2 oil fields in disputed area of Mosul, bringing number of captured oil fields to 44
Army retakes several districts from al-Shabaab, terrorist group blamed for last Saturday's deadly attack
We urge Iraqi government to calm situation by limiting federal forces’ movements in disputed areas, the spokesperson says
Tillerson, speaking one week after President Donald Trump refused to certify the Iran nuclear deal and left its fate to the US Congress, said that he would address European allies' business concerns.
Until Spain's Senate convenes to discuss the government's move to start imposing direct control over Catalonia Puigdemont "can change course, can return to constitutional legality," Martinez-Maillo said.
One of the organisers said "more than 10,000" people turned out for the march to the trades union congress building. No official figure was immediately available.
The inspection was related to "concerns that several German car manufacturers may have violated EU antitrust rules that prohibit cartels and restrictive business practices," a statement said.