Italian NGO Defies Salvini, Launches New Migrant Transport Vessel

Demontrators hold a flag reading "Savin Humans - Mediterranea" during a gatherin

Italian migrant transport NGO Mediterranea Saving Humans has launched a new vessel into the Mediterranean following the confiscation of their other ship.

The new ship, the Alex, set sail this week to the area off the coast of Libya known as the SAR (search and rescue) zone with the head of the group declaring that the vessel will pick up illegal immigrants and take them to Italian ports, Il Giornale reports.

Luca Casarini, the head of the NGO, had been under investigation by Italian authorities in connection with people trafficking and was interrogated by deputy prosecutor of Agrigento Salvatore Vella in April.

In a press release, the NGO stated: “We will reach the so-called Libyan SAR, an area controlled by militias colluding with human traffickers legitimised by Italian and European Union policies. Our presence is the only real deterrent to their action.”

The group also mentioned Sea Watch-3 captain Carola Rackete, who was arrested by Italian authorities over the weekend after ramming a patrol boat in an attempt to forcibly land migrants in an Italian port, claiming that Rackete had simply done “what is right”.

The mission of the Alex will not be to directly pick up migrants, as the vessel is not equipped for such a task, but to support two other migrant transport NGOs operating in the Libyan SAR zone.

So far, Mediterranea Saving Humans has managed to raise over 800,000 euros toward their migrant transport operation, well above the original 700,000 euro goal.

Reports from last month showed that the NGO, along with Sea Watch, had spent millions of euros in the last few years on their operations in the Mediterranean.

Populist Italian interior minister Matteo Salvini, whose policies have led to a drastic decrease in drowning deaths and illegal migration, has labelled Sea Watch a human trafficking organisation and recently sent patrol boats to stop other vessels from entering Italian waters with migrants on board.

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


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.