An Italian Public Prosecutor's Office has accused NGOs that are operating migrant rescue ships in the Mediterranean of collaborating with human smugglers. One prosecutor spoke of evidence including light signals and telephone conversations. The accused activists have rejected the allegations, but Italian opposition parties talk of NGOs being involved in criminal activities. What is behind the claims?
Smear campaign against Europe's conscience
The reputation of refugee aid workers is being falsely sullied, Avvenire is convinced:
“The NGOs that are active in the Strait of Sicily are the eyes we must not close, the hands we must not let rest, because they are Italy's and Europe's admonishing conscience. … Therefore we cannot remain passive and inactive vis-à-vis this attempt to sully their reputation and 'drive' them out of the Mediterranean. Yet this is precisely what is happening: accusations, dossiers, pamphlets, anti-migration and anti-NGO videos are piling up. … They are receiving confirmation and legitimation on the pages of respected newspapers, where within a few weeks sordid headlines and a hostile undertone have constructed a completely baseless and absurd narrative about contacts between the human trafficking business and the NGOs.”
Even heroes can cause damage
Only carefully coordinated rescue operations can save lives, La Stampa stresses:
“Saving human lives is the common obligation of religion, civilian ethics and the law. But this is no time for 'lone knights'. The refugee tragedy is too extensive for anyone to believe they can solve it on their own. We need clear coordination between the governments, the armed forces, the NGOs and the human rights organisations. … Joint agreements must be reached in which everyone is assigned a clear role. This is the most rational, most professional and most efficient solution that will save the most lives. The alternative, 'piracy for a good cause', will only convey a temporary feeling of heroism. But although its intentions are good it would only hinder the rescue actions in the Mediterranean.”