NGOs rail against anti-migrant “taxi” ship decree, EU refuses to intervene

NGOs rail against anti-migrant “taxi” ship decree, EU refuses to intervene

NGOs rail against anti-migrant “taxi” ship decree, EU refuses to intervene

NGOs operating migrant “taxi” ships have complained to the European Union about new Italian border controls, but the bloc has claimed it will not interfere.

Several NGOs that operate “taxi” ships for migrants in the Mediterranean have released a joint statement against the new rules, threatening heavy fines and ship confiscations if they break the new rules.

“Overall, the Italian decree-law contradicts international law of the sea, human rights and European law and should therefore trigger a strong response from the European Commission, the European Parliament, European member states and institutions,” the NGOs stressed in their statement. Il Giornale reports.

However, when asked about the new Italian rules, EU Commission spokeswoman Anitta Hipper said it was not up to the EU to “deal specifically with the content of this decree”.

The joint statement also claims that the decree will continue to put migrants’ lives at risk, saying: “Among other things, the Italian government requires civilian rescue ships to head to Italy immediately after any rescue. This delays further rescue operations as ships typically conduct multiple rescue operations over several days.”

The NGOs argue that another recent policy, in which Italy has assigned NGO ships to ports far from the Search and Rescue (SAR) area, “will inevitably result in more people tragically drowning at sea.”

While the NGOs claim more drownings are likely if their activities cease, the opposite was true when former Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini effectively banned them from Italian ports in 2018 and 2019.

Under Salvini’s safety decrees, attempts by migrants to cross the crossing dropped significantly, as migrants who released them were unlikely to reach Europe, which also reduced drowning deaths at sea.

The European Union’s Border Protection Agency has also called the NGOs’ presence in the Mediterranean a draw for migrants, as many make the perilous journey expecting to be “rescued” by migrant “taxis” loitering off the coast of North Africa throughout Traveling on the boats provided by people smugglers would be much more difficult.

NGOs have also been accused of working directly with people smugglers and coordinating their search and rescue missions, while others have noted that smugglers track the locations of NGO ships and send boats to these areas.

The number of migrants dropped off by NGOs is also not insignificant: from January to September last year, over 10,000 migrants were brought ashore by various ships in the Mediterranean Sea.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or by email to ctomlinson(at)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *