>> The Golfo Azzurro, a Spanish migrant rescue ship in the Mediterranean on Tuesday, with the Libyan Coast Guard on their tail.>>
> This isn't the first NGO vessel to be targeted, last year, a hole was blown into the side of a humanitarian boat.
They were operating off the edge of Libyan waters, looking for migrants trying to cross from Africa to Italy.>> Yesterday, we were intercepted by Libyan Coast Guard at about 26 to 27 miles off the Libyan coast, in international waters. And the Libyans repeatedly threatened the Golfo Azzurro and its crew to open fire if they don't follow their orders.
The standoff ended about an hour later when finally, the Libyan Coast Guard ordered the Golfo Azzurro to leave the area and head north. I felt that people were scared, these are volunteers facing this kind of situation for the first time.>>
And this year the, Libyan Coast Guard has fired gunshots in the air several times.>> The crew of the Golfo Azzurro has witnessed similar situations a couple of times, and other NGOs, the last three months. They were intimidated by the Libyan Coast Guard several times.>> Feeling threatened, some humanitarian groups have suspended rescue operations altogether in the past week, they say life for NGOs is getting dangerous.
Prosecutors in Sicily have even opened investigations into some groups, suspected of collaborating with smugglers. But humanitarian ships like the Golfo Azzurro have become key players in recent years, picking up more than a third of all migrants brought ashore.