Human traffickers contact the Italian coast guard in advance to receive support and to pick up their dubious cargo. NGO ships are directed to the “rescue spot” even as those to be rescued are still in Libya. The 15 ships that we observed are owned or leased by NGOs have regularly been seen to leave their Italian ports, head south, stop short of reaching the Libyan coast, pick up their human cargo, and take course back 260 miles to Italy even though the port of Zarzis in Tunis is just 60 mile away from the rescue spot.
The organizations in question are: MOAS, Jugend Rettet, Stichting Bootvluchting, Médecins Sans Frontières, Save the Children, Proactiva Open Arms, Sea-Watch.org, Sea-Eye and Life Boat.
The real intention of the people behind the NGOs is not clear. Their motive can be money, we would not be surprised if it turned out to be so. They may also be politically driven; the activities of the Malta-based organisation, MOAS, by trafficking people to Italy is the best guarantee that migrants will not show up on the Maltese shore. MOAS is managed by an Maltese Marine officer well known in Malta for his maltreatment of refugees 1). 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 destabilizing Europe.
How high-minded the intentions of these organisations might be, their actions are criminal as most of these migrants are not eligible for being granted asylum and will end up on the streets of Rome or Paris and undermine Europe stability raising racially motivated social tensions.
Brussels has created particular legislature to protect people traffickers against prosecution. In a dedicated section of an EU resolution entitled On Search and Rescue, the text states that “private ship masters and non-governmental organisations who assist in sea rescues in the Mediterranean Sea should not risk punishment for providing such assistance.”2)
During the two months of our observation, we have monitored at least 39,000 Africans illegally smuggled into Italy, which was done with the full consent of the Italian and European authorities.
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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.|
In October we discovered that four NGOs picked up people in the Libyan territorial waters. We have proof that these smugglers communicated their action in advance with the Italian authorities. Ten hours before the immigrants left Libya, the Italian coast guard directed the NGOs to the “rescue” spot: Full account “Caught in the act: NGOs deal in migrant smuggling”
The MOAS organisation has close links with the famous US military contractor “Blackwater”, the US army and the Maltese navy. Full account: “The Americans from MOAS ferry migrants to Europe”