Italian Coastguard Tells German Migrant Taxi NGO Ship to Go to Germany

Men watch as migrants from Tunisia and Lybia arrive onboard of an Italian Guardia Costiera (Coast Guard) boat in the Italian Pelagie Island of Lampedusa on August 1, 2020. (Photo by Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP) (Photo by ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP via Getty Images)

Italian coastguard authorities on the island of Lampedusa have denied port access to the German migrant transport NGO Sea-Eye, telling the vessel to head to Germany.

Sea-Eye’s ship, the Alan Kurdi, flies the German flag and currently has 133 migrant on board off the coast of Lampedusa after picking them up along the coast of Libya in the search and rescue (SAR) zone. The NGO ship arrived in the area on Sunday and has demanded the authorities allow them to drop off the migrants aboard.

Gordon Isler, who serves on the executive board of Sea-Eye and is responsible for the Alan Kurdi, shared an email on Twitter from the Italian coastguard. It told Sea-Eye to contact German authorities in Bremen, arguing the migrants were not picked up in the Italian SAR zone.

Isler went on to complain about the response, saying: “Imagine that an Italian ship saves [people] in the North Sea and Bremen refers them to Rome. That’s grotesque.”

According to a report from newspaper Il Giornale, the Governor of Sicily Nello Musumeci has complained about the NGO activity as both Sicily and Lampedusa have seen a dramatic rise in migrant boat landings.

“If the boats were not enough, the quarantine ships are full of people brought by the NGOs. In this too, the government did not want to listen to us,” Musumeci said. He added: “Here’s some common sense: if Sicily has to manage the autonomous landingsit cannot bear those planned by the NGOs, which should then be destined for other European ports.”

Earlier this month, another German NGO, Sea-Watch, complained that Italian authorities were taking too long to transfer migrants from their vessel.

“We insist that it should not take eight to ten days before a ship, which rescues people at sea, to reach a port,” Giorgia Linardi, a spokeswoman for the NGO, said.

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


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