Italy: Pro-Migration NGOs Accused of Exploiting Dead Child Photos

Refugees and migrants wait to be rescued by members of Proactiva Open Arms NGO in the Mediterranean Sea, some 12 nautical miles north of Libya, on October 4, 2016. At least 1,800 migrants were rescued off the Libyan coast, the Italian coastguard announced, adding that similar operations were underway around …

Italian media have accused pro-migration non-governmental organisations (NGOs) of exploiting photographs of dead children to increase public support for migrant “taxi” operations in the Mediterranean Sea.

A photograph of a dead toddler on a Libyan beach published on social media by Oscar Camps, the founder of the Spanish migrant transport NGO Open Arms, has been called “unacceptable” by Italian prime minister Mario Draghi.

Italian newspaper Il Giornale, however, has accused the NGOs and their allies of exploiting the photographs, stating: “The only real culprits responsible for lifeless children with their faces in the sand are the traffickers, who put migrants on their death rafts and set them off to Italy for a fee.”

“NGOs, such as Open Arms… prefer to point the finger at our country and Europe, which they believe have abandoned sea rescue,” they added.

The newspaper also adds that the timing of the release of the photographs comes as the various head of European Union countries were meeting to discuss the recent surge in illegal migration to Spain and Italy in recent weeks.

According to the newspaper, the images came from a beach near Zuwara in Libya, called the “heart” of the people-smuggling trade by the BBC in 2015, with Il Giornale questioning who sent the photographs to Open Arms, with other charities such as the Red Crescent being unlikely to send such images to NGOs.

The pictures also echo the photograph of Syrian toddler Alan Kurdi, who was found dead on a beach in Turkey. The image sparked outrage across the world and made the front pages of newspapers during the height of the 2015 migrant crisis.

In recent months, NGO activity in the Mediterranean has increased, with migrant transports dropping off hundreds of people in Italy. Other migrants have arrived in large numbers on their own to the island of Lampedusa, including over 1,200 arrivals in 24 hours earlier this month.

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


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