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Mission review photographer in dramatic Mediterranean rescue: 'They're shooting'

Mission review photographer in dramatic Mediterranean rescue: 'They're shooting'

While working on the series “The Migration Game”, Uppdrag gränskning photographer Henrik Hjort witnessed how the Libyan Coast Guard stopped the rescue operation.

Libyans fired shots, people ended up in the water, and the rescue ship SOS Humanity 1 had to leave the scene after threats with automatic weapons.

The basic requirement to be able to document rescue efforts was that everyone, in the event of an emergency, help save lives. So Henrik Hjort had to put down the camera.

Listen to the Uppdrag review photographer tell the story in the clip above.

Misuse of risks

For many years, the European Union has funded projects in Libya and invested in the country's coast guard. The aim is to increase capacity, train crew and save lives, according to the European Commission.

It is worth at least about 750 million Swedish krona, as well as several ships and rib boats – despite knowledge of mistreatment of migrants and bombings. Migrants face the risk of being returned to camps with torture and extortion.

– If you say that we can only cooperate with international partners with whom we have no problems with regard to human rights, we will feel very alone, says Ylva Johansson (S), EU Commissioner responsible for migration issues.

Rescue ships are criticized

It is common for migrants to pay smugglers for a place on a somewhat unseaworthy boat, which someone has to drive. In the incident documented by the mission's review, the migrants were transported by a smuggler who was hidden by a mask, and who quickly left the scene.

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Rescue ships of voluntary organizations have been criticized for becoming part of irregular migration across the sea. But the SOS Humanity 1 crew disagrees with the criticism:

– European countries have systematically closed all legal routes to entry into the European Union. So, in order to apply for asylum, which is a basic human right, you actually have to make a very dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, says Laura, president of SOS Humanity.