Italian Coastguard Blocks German Migrant Taxi NGO in Sicily

Men wait to disembark from the Italian Coast Guard vessel "Dattilo" following a rescue operation of migrants and refugees at sea, on February 1, 2016 in the port of Messina, Sicily. Over 10,000 unaccompanied migrant children have disappeared in Europe, the EU police agency Europol said yesterday, fearing many have …

The Italian coastguard detained the German migrant taxi NGO Sea-Eye on Friday after the NGO had dropped off 415 migrants in the Sicilian port of Pozzallo.

The coastguard announced the blocking of the NGO’s vessel, the Sea-Eye 4, on Saturday in Palermo for reportedly failing to comply with security rules.

“An inspection revealed various irregularities of a technical nature likely to compromise not only the safety of crew members but also that of people who have been or could in the future be recovered onboard during rescue operations,” the coast guard said in a statement, Franceinfo reports.

The report noted that despite the NGO picking up over 400 people, it only had enough life-saving equipment on board to help a maximum of 27 people. If the ship were in distress it would not be able to guarantee the evacuation and safety of everyone on board, according to the coast guard.

Sea-Eye released a statement of their own in response to the blocking of the ship, which now remains detained in Palermo.

“In essence, the argument is always the same: German rescue ships would regularly save too many people from drowning and do not have the right certification for such a humanitarian purpose,” chairman of Sea-Eye Gorden Isler said.

“Our captain carried out the duty of sea rescue in an exemplary manner. He witnessed cases of distress at sea and carried out a safe rescue. The EU states could learn from that,” Isler added.

The detaining of the Sea-Eye 4 comes after its very first mission in the Mediterranean as the vessel was only procured by the NGO late last year and was financed largely by the group United4Rescue, based in Hanover.

As Sea-Eye notes in their press release, the detainment by Italian authorities is just the latest for the NGO as its other vessel, the Alan Kurdi, was also detained for six months until its release in April. the ship has since been transferred to Spain for maintenance work.

Migrant taxi NGO activity has ramped up in recent months and some in the Italian media have slammed NGOs for exploiting pictures of dead children on the beaches of Libya in order to increase public support for their activities.

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


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