Migrant Taxi NGO Drops Off over 450 Migrants in Italy

Migrants onboard the Sea-Watch 4 civil sea rescue ship react on sea off the coast of Sicily, Italy, on September 01, 2020, as they learn that they have permission to run into the port of Palermo, Sicily, the next day. - More than 350 migrants are onboard the Sea-Watch 4, …
THOMAS LOHNES/AFP via Getty Images

The German migrant taxi NGO Sea-Watch dropped off 454 migrants in the Sicilian port city of Trapani this week after Italian authorities granted the vessel port access.

The Sea-Watch 4 picked up 455 migrants after four separate encounters with vessels off the coast of Libya and elsewhere in the Mediterranean Sea over a 72-hour period. One of the migrants was evacuated for medical treatment by Italian authorities.

According to a report from the European Union-funded website Infomigrants, onboard the vessel were pregnant women, young children, and unaccompanied minor migrants. Sea-Watch claimed that some of those on board had made multiple attempts to cross the Mediterranean sea to reach Europe.

Infomigrnats also notes that the arrival of the 454 migrants in Trapani comes just days after another migrant taxi NGO, France-based SOS Mediterranee, had dropped off 236 people in Sicily after its vessel Ocean Viking had picked them up.

Statistics published by the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) report that over 10,000 migrants have entered Italy through the central Mediterranean route so far this year as of May 3rd.

In the first four months of 2020, Italy saw just 3,465 new sea arrivals through the central Mediterranean route according to the UNHCR, a number that has increased to 8,985 during the same period, an increase of 159.3 per cent.

Just three days into the month of May and Italy has seen over a thousand new arrivals, while the entire months of May in 2020 saw a total of 1,654 arrivals.

For several years, various migrant taxi NGOs have been accused of working with smugglers, with a German Joint Analysis and Strategy Centre for Illegal Migration (Gasim) report released last year stating that smugglers had used satellite phones to contact NGOs.

“In the presence of NGO ships, concerted departures from Libya were noted. According to refugees and migrants, smugglers use the tracking function on various websites to determine the location of NGO ships and contacted them in individual cases using a satellite phone,” the report said.

In 2018, a former volunteer for a migrant taxi NGO also claimed that he had witnessed cooperation between NGOs and people smugglers. After alerting Italian authorities, he received death threats, allegedly from far-left extremists.

The presence of pregnant women aboard the Sea-Watch 4 this week comes after a report from February claimed people traffickers were using pregnant women as “weapons” to encourage public sympathy for mass migration and increase their own business.

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

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