GEFIRA — Nov 2016
Since 2015 more and more private NGOs are involved in the illegal migrant ferrying from Libya to Italy. They all claim to be on a rescuing mission, but are they? “We can now confirm that at least 3,800 people have died, making 2016 the deadliest ever,” William Spindler, a spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), declared last week. The previous record, 3,771 lives lost, was set in 2015. Despite a sharp drop in the number of refugees fleeing across the Mediterranean, from 1.01 million last year to 327,800 so far this year, more and more people drown at sea or die as a result of other causes1).
This dramatic loss of life comes as no surprise now that private NGOs in coordination with the Italian coast guard shuttle migrants from the Libyan to the Italian coast. People smugglers are today using lower-quality vessels, flimsy inflatable rafts that last a couple of nautical miles, just enough for the passengers to be picked up by one of the 11 vessels operated by the numerous NGOs that are waiting 8 to 12 nautical miles off the Libyan coast. They collect people in the Libyan territorial waters (i.e. within 12 nautical miles of land), and rather than bring them to Zarzis, Tunisia, which is 60 nautical miles away they ferry the migrants 275 nautical miles all the way to Italy.
True, the whole operation is well coordinated between the Italian coast guard and NGOs; still, the refugees are running a substantial risk. Since the NGOs constitute a vital part of the journey to Europe, not to say that they are indispensable to the human trafficking across the Mediterranean, they are entirely responsible for the casualties, for without their readiness to collect people from make-shift rafts of which Africans are well aware, there would be no human traffic; therefore those in charge of these organisations should be held accountable for no less a crime than manslaughter.
The real intention of the people behind the NGOs is not clear. Their motive can be money, and we would not be surprised if it turned out to be so. They may also be politically driven; the Malta-based MOAS organisation trafficking people to Italy is the best guarantee that migrants will not show up on the Maltese shore. It is also possible that these organisations are managed by naive “do-gooders” who do not understand that offering their services they are acting like a magnet to the people from Africa and thus they are willy-nilly causing more fatalities, not to mention that their actions are destabilising Europe.
All these NGOs insist that they want to save people and at the same time they invite journalists on board their vessels to take pictures and make stories of human tragedy for the press, to present live shots of drowning Africans who perish at sea, deluded by the prospects of a better life a sea away, pandered to them by the smugglers and the NGOs.
Most of the migrants that come from Africa do not qualify for asylum in Europe. The NGOs, seemingly occupying high moral ground, dump them literally onto Italian soil with a “clear conscience” of having done good. As a result, many of these immigrants end up on the streets of Rome, Como, Paris or in camps near Calais, increase chaos, threaten security and heighten racial tension on the continent.
Ships permanently used by NGOs off the Libyan coast
|The Phoenix is one of the two MOAS vessels. The ship is regularly spotted in the territorial waters of Libya. It is registered in Belize, South America. However, the ship is owned and operated by the Maltese to bring the immigrants to Italia. Website: MOAS|
|The Topaz Responder, a 51-meter custom-made emergency response vessel, which hosts two high-speed rescue launches. The ship is managed in combination with MSF. This is one of the three ferries that can transport hundreds of people at one go. The ship is registered at the Marshall Islands. Website: MOAS|
|Iuventa is registered under the flag of the Netherlands and owned by the German NGO Jugend Rettet. Website: Jugend Rettet.|
|The Golfo Azzurro is used by the Dutch ‘Boat Refugee Foundation’. Golfo Azzurro operates under the Panama flag. The Boat Refugee Foundation charters the vessel for a symbolic price. Website: Bootvluchteling.|
|Dignity 1 is registered under the flag of Panama. We believe the ship belongs to Médecins Sans Frontières. Website: MSF.|
|The Bourbon Argos, a ship of Médecins Sans Frontières. It is one of the three ships used to ferry people from the smaller vessels to Italy. The vessel is currently registered under the flag of Luxembourg. MSF.|
|The Aquarius is one of the many ships managed by Médecins Sans Frontières. It is registered under the flag of Gibraltar. Website: MSF.|
|The Vos Hestia search and rescue ship, chartered by the charity Save The Children, like many of the NGO vessels it is under the supervision of the Italian Coast Guard Website: Save the Children.|
|Proactiva Open Arms operates the Astral. We spotted the Astral many times in Libyan territorial waters. The ship disappeared on a regular basis from the AIS tracking websites. Website: Proactiva Open Arms.|
|The MS Sea-Watch I is owned by a Berlin-based organisation. It works closely with Watch The Med, a transnational network of people that fight against the European border regime, and demand a free and safe passage to Europe. Website: Sea-Watch.|
|The MS Sea-Watch II is owned by a Berlin-based organisation. It works closely with Watch The Med a transnational network of people that fight against the European border regime, and they demand a free and safe passage to Europe. Website: Sea-Watch.|
|The Audur is registered under the Netherlands’ flag. We do not know to whom this ship belongs.|
|The MS Sea-Eye is owned by Sea-Eye-eV. Michael Buschheuer from Regensburg, Germany, and a group of family and friends founded the non-profit sea rescue organisation Sea-Eye e.V. Website: Sea-Eye.|
|The Speedy is a speedboat owned by Sea-Eye-eV. The ship is confiscated by the Libyan government. Website: Sea-Eye.|
|Minden is owned by the German organisation LifeBoat. The vessel is currently registered under the flag of Germany. Website: Lifeboat.|
|1.||↑||UN: 2016 deadliest year for refugees in Mediterranean, Deutsche Welle.|