Meloni Tells Migrant Taxi NGOs: Stop Ferry Service

Giorgia Meloni, Italy's prime minister, speaks during her first year-end press conference in Rome, Italy, on Thursday, Dec. 29, 2022. The US and Italy joined an increasing number of nations requiring Covid tests for travelers from China, with concerns mounting over the risk of any new variants emerging from the …
Alessia Pierdomenico/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Italian conservative Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has called on migrant taxi NGOs to stop their “ferry service” in the Mediterranean after enacting new stricter rules on how the NGOs operate.

Prime Minister Meloni released a statement on social media regarding the new regulations for migrant taxi NGO vessels saying, “the Italy that pretends not to see who systematically violates the rules is over.”

“International law does not provide that there is someone who can make a ferry in the Mediterranean or in any other sea, and go back and forth to transfer people from one country to another,” Prime Minister Meloni said, the newspaper Il Giornale reports.

“The rules want to limit the rescue of migrants to what is required by international law, with some fairly simple rules: if you come across a boat and rescue people you have to bring them to safety, so you do not keep them on board by continuing to do other multiple rescues until the ship is full. Otherwise, in this case, it is not the accidental rescue of the shipwrecked,” she added.

The new regulations, which came into effect this week, demand that migrant taxi NGO ships drop off migrants after their first rescue and that those violating the policy could face heavy fines or even have their vessels seized by Italian authorities.

“There must be consistency between the activities that some ships carry out in the Mediterranean and what they are registered for. Commercial ships that go back and forth to rescue migrants is something that is quite jarring,” Meloni said.

Last year it was revealed that just two of the 17 migrant taxi NGO vessels in operation were registered as search and rescue vessels, while others were registered as simple cargo ships or even fishing ships.

“If these rules are not respected, there is no authorization to enter international waters and if that authorization is violated, the vessel is detained the first time for two months, the second time with seizure for the purpose of confiscation,” Meloni said.

“We also do it to respect migrants, because if someone is risking his life he has the right to be saved, but what is different is to be used by human trafficking in the third millennium and continue to make billions to unscrupulous smugglers,” she added.

Last year, Italy saw over 100,000 illegal migrant arrivals and despite the election of Meloni and her centre-right coalition allies, arrivals have continued at a rapid pace. Earlier this week, over 800 migrants arrived on boats on the coasts of Italy within just 24 hours, with 546 arriving aboard a single fishing boat in Syracuse.

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



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