By: V4 Agency
NGOs operating along the Mediterranean migration route are colluding with human smugglers and trafficking gangs, according to the investigation of the Trapani prosecutor’s office.
The final report of the Trapani prosecutor’s office sheds light on the way in which NGOs operate in the region and reveals that the captains of various NGO-affiliated ships have had regular communications with human smugglers.
The prosecution found several occasions of contact and agreements between the smugglers and NGOs. There were regular maritime encounters disguised as humanitarian rescue missions, where human smugglers directed ships with illegal immigrants on board to specific coordinates. The four-year investigation revealed that sizable NGOs, such as Doctors Without Borders, were in constant contact and colluding with human smugglers, and that this system is still being operated by these parties in the same fashion to this day.
In general, “rescue” ships are aware of the position of boats at the time they are launched by smugglers, and the transfer of illegal immigrants to NGO ships is organised under the supervision of smugglers. At the end of the “rescue mission,” smugglers returned to Libya with the small vessels to be “reused for transport multiple times,” the document said.
The report describes a case where the NGO ship towed the smuggler’s vessel from Libyan territorial waters out to international waters before the transfer, and presents several further examples where this and similar methods were employed.
According to investigators, “NGO humanitarian rescue” ships had tacit agreements with smugglers and trafficking gangs operating in both Libya and in Italy, and used a satellite‐based automatic identification system to detect and locate small vessels with illegal migrants.
In 2017, 119,310 migrants were transported to Italian shores.