NGO Migrant Ferry Finds No Migrants After Three-Week Search

A picture shows the Sea-Eye rescue ship named after Alan Kurdi during its inauguration in Palma de Mallorca on February 10, 2019. - The former research vessel 'Professor Albrecht Penck' was rebaptised 'Alan Kurdi', after the Syrian boy who was drowned during a ship wreck in the Mediterranean Sea. (Photo …

Sea-Eye, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) which ferried migrants to Europe, has claimed that despite a three-week search off the coast of Libya, they were unable to find a single migrant to “rescue” before returning to port in Mallorca.

The Alan Kurdi migrant ferry, named after the young boy of the same name who drowned and washed ashore in 2015 during the height of the migrant crisis, returned to Palma de Mallorca after three weeks at sea looking for migrants but finding none, Mallorca Zeitung reports.

Dominik Reisinger, mission leader on the vessel described the three-week trip as a success, saying, “It was a successful mission, we were there, we were well prepared, if there had been an assignment, we would have been there and could have helped people. Fortunately, it was not necessary.”

The weather on the Mediterranean was described as particularly fierce during the three weeks, with seven-metre tall waves.

While one radio distress call was received by the crew off the coast of the Italian island of Lampedusa, their offer to help was not replied to. “We hope that in these weather conditions nobody was on a dinghy at sea, which would have been deadly,” Reisinger said.

Since the tough border policies of Italy’s populist Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Matteo Salvini were enacted last year, the number of migrants from Libya has massively dwindled. In the month of January, the number was down 95 percent compared to 2018.

The stricter border controls, which have included a refusal to allow migrant “rescue” NGOs to dock in Italian ports, have led to many other organisations, including Doctors Without Borders (MSF), giving up their ferry operations entirely.

Even those who run migrant reception centres have slammed the previous open border policy of the former Italian government: last month, the head of the country’s largest migrant reception centre Francesco Magnano came out against open borders ideology, saying it had “created slums scattered throughout the country.”

“In our country, there are 600,000 denials. People who have lost not only the right to reception, but have lost their status, they are zombies who live in our country,” he added.

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


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