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Anti-immigrant ship on its way to stop refugee boats in Mediterranean stopped in Suez Canal

The C-Star has been stuck just off a peninsula in the Gulf of Suez since Sunday

Caroline Mortimer
Saturday 22 July 2017 01:23 BST
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A ship run by Medecins Sans Frontieres arrives in the port of Salerno in Italy having rescued hundreds of migrants
A ship run by Medecins Sans Frontieres arrives in the port of Salerno in Italy having rescued hundreds of migrants (Getty Images)

A ship chartered by activists to hamper the rescue of refugees in the Mediterranean has reportedly been “arrested” in the Suez Canal after the its captain failed to produce a satisfactory crew list.

The Defend Europe ship set sail from the east African nation of Djibouti where it was chartered last week.

Called the C-Star, it was predominantly funded with donations on a crowdfunding website.

The crew had intended to sail the ship through Egypt's Suez Canal before heading towards the Italian city of Cantania where many rescue boats run by charities and non government organisations (NGOs) are based.

A lot of them then set sail from the city to rescue migrants who capsize in the Mediterranean.

More than 85,000 refugees and migrants, mostly from sub-Saharan Africa, have been pulled from the sea while trying to make the perilous crossing.

This year at least 2,000 have drowned, after paying smugglers and setting sail in rickety boats which are unsuited to the choppy waters of the Mediterranean.

The Suez Canal Authority told campaign group Hope Not Hate that the ship had been “arrested” by Egyptian security services and the navy due to “the lack of documentation and papers”.

The ship’s AIS signal, which is part of an international marine system which helps ships avoid collisions, has reportedly shown the ship halted just off a peninsula at the bottom of the Gulf of Suez since Sunday.

According to its tracking information, it was supposed to reach Port Suez by 17 July.

It is currently unclear where the crew are following the ship’s seizure as the social media accounts of the group remain active.

They boast that they are en route to pick up the leaders of the movement, including Canadian alt-right YouTube star Lauren Southern, who are currently in Cantania doing interviews with the international media.

The group has vowed to “assist” the Libyan coast guard in pushing back the refugee boats when they leave the country’s shores and say they want to “monitor” the actions of NGOs such as Save the Children who are operating in the region.

They claim these charities are facilitating “human trafficking” into Europe.

But fears have been raised about the intentions of the crew after Daniel Fiß, the leader of the German branch of the movement behind Defend Europe, told a German news website that they had taken guards to “take action” against potentially armed human traffickers and protect the six crew.

The Independent has contacted Defend Europe and the Suez Canal Authority for comment but none had arrived at the time of publication.

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