German Green Party leader in Hamburg Anna Gallina accompanied one of the several migrant rescue NGOs accused of helping or encouraging people smugglers by the European Union.
Ms. Gallina joined the crew of Sea-Eye, one of the German NGOs which operates in the Mediterranean looking for migrant boats, taking them onboard and bringing them to Europe, Die Welt reports.
The left wing politician took part in the NGO’s sixth voyage off the coast of Libya, saying:”I am going to Libya in the next few weeks because I want to contribute to the salvation of the people.” Gallina indicated she was not going just to observe the NGOs actions, but rather to participate in the rescue operations.
“My commitment is also explicitly seen as a solidarity document for local NGOs, which are massively discredited in Italy,” she added.
Italian politicians and members of the public are describing the actions of the NGOs not as rescue operations but as “taxi services” for migrants looking to get to Europe. As a result, many of the non-profits have lost much of their former funding.
Italian prosecutor Carmelo Zuccaro has taken the issue even further suggesting many of the NGOs may actually be working with people smugglers. “We have evidence that there are direct contacts between certain NGOs and people traffickers in Libya,” Zuccaro said.
“We do not yet know if and how we could use this evidence in court, but we are quite certain about what we say; telephone calls from Libya to certain NGOs, lamps that illuminate the route to these organisations’ boats, boats that suddenly turn off their (locating) transponders, are ascertained facts,” he added.
Italian Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano said he agrees with the assessment of Mr. Zuccaro, saying: “If magistrates have usable and credible information (regarding Zuccaro’s claim), the government will certainly not stand in the way.”
Sea-Eye spokesman Hans-Peter Buschheuer hit out at critics saying: “We are definitely not a taxi for refugees.”
The NGO has been operating in the area since spring 2016 and maintains its ships in Malta. The group claims to have saved over 8,000 migrants from drowning in the Mediterranean.
Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at firstname.lastname@example.org