Anti-migrant ship Defend Europe rescued in Mediterranean after issuing distress call

Refugee Rescue

Anti-migrant ship Defend Europe rescued in Mediterranean after issuing distress call

After Italian marine rescue services identified Sea-Eye's cutter as the closest vessel, it went to offer assistance to the C Star.

Meanwhile Defend Europe said its vessel was suffering a "minor technical problem", the report added.

German NGO Sea-Eye dispatched one of their search and rescue boats to the aid of the crew of the C Star, which is run by Defend Europe, a group that says it is "monitoring" the actions of NGOs in the Mediterranean.

The Italian coastguard declined to comment.

They purchased the C-Star through the Defend Europe crowdfunding campaign in July, which they said would help them intercept NGOs bringing refugees to Europe. It is the closest big boat in the sea to the Defend Europe vessel - which it said was "in distress" - and has been instructed "to get the ship help", according to its Facebook page.

Supporters of the Identitarian movement have vowed to "defend" Europe from a migrant "invasion" from Africa. They sought to downplay the distress call in a statement on Twitter, labelling it a "minor technical problem".

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BuzzFeed News confirmed with a EU NAVFOR spokesperson that the C-Star had been in global waters at the time reported, and that the boat had "experienced an engine breakdown".

"Other vessels in the area had been alerted and the problem was "about to be resolved". But a boat in distress is never amusing".

An Operation Sophia spokesperson confirmed with the publication that a patrol aircraft spotted the C-Star near Libya on Friday at 3am ET.

In Cyprus, the crew of the C-Star was stopped on suspicion of smuggling Sri Lankan men to Europe, and then later released.

Defend Europe's ship, the CStar - the running costs of which were crowdfunded by white supremacists and neo-Nazis - is reportedly to receive help from a vessel charted by an NGO.

Since 2014, charity groups have been operating rescue ships that have pulled tens of thousands of migrants from overcrowded and unsafe boats to safety.

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