Italian Government Wants Stricter Rules for Controversial Pro-Migrant NGO Vessels

Would be immigrants wait to disembark in the port of Catania, on the island of Sicily on March 21, 2017 from the ship 'Aquarius' following a rescue operation in the Mediterranean sea, where some 946 would be immigrants have been rescued.

The Italian government is looking to create a stricter environment for pro-migrant NGO rescue ships operating out of the country which would include being deployed only under Italian coast guard discretion.

The new policy recommendations come from a study done by the Italian Senate’s Defence Committee which looked at the operation of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in the Mediterranean.

The committee has recommended that NGO ships should only be put to sea under strict circumstances and that they should not be allowed to create a private “humanitarian corridor”, Salzburger Nachrichten reports.

The committee came to its conclusions after interviewing Sicilian prosecutors and members of the Italian coastguard.

Sicilian prosecutor Carmelo Zuccaro has previously accused NGOs of directly conspiring with people smugglers in North Africa saying: “We have evidence that there are direct contacts between certain NGOs and people traffickers in Libya.”

The committee report has also called for all NGOs operating from Italy to be registered with the Italian government. By registering with the authorities, the NGOs would have to make their sources of income public, something several of them have so far refused to do.

Currently, many of the migrant rescue operations are registered in Germany and other countries.

The report also slammed both Tunisia and Malta. claiming that neither country has helped migrants in their waters, leaving Italy to foot the bill for all migrants crossing the sea.

Italian oppositions parties, including the populist Five-Star Movement (M5S), welcomed the recommendations. M5S demanded that no NGOs should be allowed to operate from Italian ports if they did not have total financial transparency.

The number of migrants reaching Italy has skyrocketed since last year, hitting an all-time record. So far this year, 45,746 migrants have crossed the Mediterranean and have reached Italy, an increase of 42 per cent since 2016.

Along with a record number of crossings, there have been many deaths with 1,316 individuals drowning this year attempting to get to Europe.

Amongst the record number of migrants, very few are ever granted asylum. A report from the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) showed that of the 181,436 migrants who came to Italy in 2016, only 4,808, or 2.65 per cent, were recognised as legitimate asylum seekers.

Some of the migrants who make it to Italy attempt to travel on to other countries like Germany and France.

In May, Breitbart London visited the largest migrant camp in Paris and talked to several young men who had arrived via the Mediterranean route. They blamed Europe for their situation and demanded residency documentation and access to welfare.

 Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at     


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