Frontex: Migrant Taxi NGO Activity Encourages Migrants To Risk Deadly Mediterranean Crossing

CATANIA, ITALY - NOVEMBER 14: The migrants on the Italian-flagged tugboat 'Macistonè
Fabrizio Villa/Getty Images

Frontex, the European Union border agency, has claimed that the activities of migrant taxi NGO ships in the Mediterranean Sea have acted as an attraction for migrants to make the dangerous voyage to Europe.

Frontex claimed that the NGOs, which pick up boats of migrants in various parts of the Mediterranean Sea, actually increase the number of migrants able to cross as people smugglers are often aware of the locations of the vessels and can work that into their plans.

“Criminal networks try to maximise their profits often by putting migrants’ lives at risk and they take into account all factors when planning their smuggling operations, including weather conditions, proximity to NGO and member state vessels, the situation in the countries of arrival, etc.,” a source within the agency told the news website Euractiv.

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni expressed a similar opinion earlier this week during an interview with an Italian newspaper stating that NGO activity helped people smugglers.

The Italian leader claimed that NGOs were a “driving factor” for illegal migration and stated, “I think a serious nation cannot tolerate these illegal phenomena.”

Meloni went on to add that the “approach of some NGOs, which undertake a mainly ideological activity that has little to do with international laws on rescue at sea, finds a natural convergence with the interests of traffickers.”

“With this type of management of the phenomenon, aid, in the end, is given not to those who need it but to those who have the money to pay traffickers,” she said.

Sophie Scheytt of the NGO Sea-Watch defended against the accusations against migrant taxi NGOs saying, “NGOs are facing a new wave of false accusations,” and added, “We are accused of not cooperating with the state authorities when in reality what is happening is that they are not communicating with us.”

Since coming to power in October, Prime Minister Meloni and her government have vowed to crack down on the activities of migrant taxi NGOs in the Mediterranean, with Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi denying NGOs port access, leading to one ship, the Ocean Viking, seeking a port in France.

At least 10,000 migrants have been dropped off in Italy by migrant taxi NGO ships this year and over 92,000 migrants have arrived illegally in the country overall.

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


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