A few years ago most rescues of migrants in the Mediterranean were carried out by the coast guards of Italy, Malta, and Greece. After a couple of years of vigorous complaints, however, Italy was able to pull the EU into the act, and vessels from the coast guards and navies of various other nations were enlisted to perform rescue duty.
After the Great Refugee Crisis began in 2015, the action switched to ships sent to the Med by various privately-financed NGOs. Since then the NGO boats have become notorious for collaborating with the people-smugglers, waiting just off the coast of Libya to pick up their consignments of “refugees”.
Names, Financiers and Intrigues — Here are all the secrets of the NGO ships
From Soros to a fan of Hillary Clinton’s, here is where the NGOS who bring migrants to Italy get their money and how they spend it.
NGOs again in the eye of the cyclone. After the accusations by Frontex, investigations by three prosecutors, and suspicion of “dirty affairs”, yesterday Matteo Renzi also accused the humanitarian organizations of “not respecting the rules”
by Giuseppe De Lorenzo
April 21, 2017
Is it true? Who knows? For certain, there are many dark sides in which it is necessary to shine a little light.
Doctors Without Borders
We begin with the largest associations. At the top of the list is obviously Doctors Without Borders (DWB), which in 2016 could count three ships: Dignity I, Bourbon Argos and Aquarius. Today only one remains active, Aquarius, to which, however, has been joined the new acquisition, Prudence, a commercial ship 75 meters long with 1,000 berths on board. A giant rescue ship.
The activity that DWB carries forward in the world is nothing to laugh about. One has to smile, however, at the fact that among its founders is Bernard Kouchner, a medical doctor who has seen more political buildings than operating rooms. In 2007, in fact, he was appointed minister of foreign affairs by Nicolas Sarkozy, or that government that bombarded Mohammad [sic] Ghaddafi and transformed Libya into the lawless port from where today boats depart laden with immigrants.
That is the way in which people involved with DWB are at the same time the cause of and the cure for the migration crisis. Today, the association incurs huge expenses to save foreigners, but funds don’t seem to be a problem. In 2016 it collected €38 million thanks to the contributions of 319,496 donors. €9.7 million from gifts of €5 to €1000 (of which 1.5 million went for the Bourbon Argos) and €3.3 million from companies and foundations. Of these, who stands out? The Open Society Foundation of George Soros. The Hungarian magnate with the vice of good luck. Moreover, the Open Society Foundation and DWB are accustomed to exchanging collaborators as if they were possessions within the family. An example? Marine Buissonniere, for twelve years a DWB employee, then director of the Soros program for public health, and now again consultant for migration for the NGO.
Save The Children
Coincidentally, Soros has also financed (even if for other initiatives) another organization that is very active in the recovery of clandestine immigrants: Save the Children. The noted international association has among its fleet of ships Vos Hestia, a ship of 62 meters that flies the Italian flag and uses two rescue boats. The money? No problem. In 2015, €80.4 million in proceeds were recorded on their balance sheets.
Proactiva Open Arms
A year ago the famous fishing boat Golfo Azzurro, which was caught on radar picking up foreigners off the coast of Libya, was managed by the Dutch Life Boat Refugee Foundation. Since the beginning of 2017 the organization hasn’t organized any more rescues at sea, but the Golfo Azzurro continues its work in the service of the Spanish NGO Proactiva Open Arms, which once used the luxury vessel Astral. For their ships, the Spaniards spend €1.4 million, of which 95% is used for rescue actions (€700,000 along the length of Libya and 700,000 at Lesbos) and the rest for infrastructure, communications and so on. The proceeds are much higher, however, with fund collections that exceed €2.1 million. According to the director Oscar Camps, the Golfo Azzurro can accommodate 400 people on board, and one day of navigating costs “only” €5,000.
The Italo-French-German NGO SOS Mediterranée, founded by retired Admiral Klaus Vogel, on the other hand, spends almost twice as much. To sustain 24 hours at sea on the Aquarius requires €11,000. And if you desire to make a donation, you should know that with €30 you will only succeed in putting a lifeboat in the sea for one hour.
Sea Watch Foundation
The mystery thickens while observing the activities of the Sea Watch Foundation. In 2014 Harald Hoppner and an associate invested €60,000 in the acquisition of an old Dutch fishing boat. Today it boasts state-of-the-art equipment. In addition to the two naval units (one flying the Dutch flag and the other the flag of New Zealand), the Sea Watch Air, a plane tasked with patrolling the high Mediterranean, should be operating soon. Where is the money coming from? That is not known.
Both Sea Watch and its sister Life Boat share an interesting curiosity. Standing out among its partners is la FC St Pauli, a sporting society of Hamburg more famous for combining goodwill causes with soccer merits. To cite one, it is the first team to ban entry into the stadium by rightist fans. Besides picking up migrants, the operations base would be at Malta, but the crew of the Minden seems to prefer Italian ports to unload the migrants. They usually carry out ten-day missions with 24 hours of sailing, and the daily cost of fuel is about €25. On the platform Betterplace.org they have succeeded in collecting €6,000 for radar and satellite communications, €7,500 to buy a lifeboat and €12,000. Too little for such a ship, and for now generous supporters have given only €1,800.
Sea-Eye and Jugend Rettet
Absent from the five German NGOs are the Sea Eye and the Jugend Rettet. The first, founded in 2015 by Michael Buschheuer, counts about 200 volunteers, and on its site is written that €1,000 is enough to pay for an entire day looking for clandestine migrants. The second, however, was formed by a group of guys who for €100,000 bought the fishing boat Iuventa. Each mission at sea costs about €40,000 a month and is financed by private donations. Their financial collection functions very well, given that from October 2016 to today they have raked in €166,232.
The most curious case is that of Migrant Offshore Aid Station, a Maltese association with two ships (Phoenix and Topaz Responder), various lifeboats Rhib and some drones. MOAS was founded in 2013 by two Italian-American entrepreneurs, Christopher and Regina Catrambone, who became millionaires thanks to the Tanghere Group, an insurance agency specializing in “emergency assistance and intelligence services”. Among its varied (and rich) partners, it has received €500,000 from Avaaz.org, which is the group traced back to Moveon.org, which in turn, is headed by the omnipresent George Soros. That’s not all. Because Christopher was among the financiers ($416,000) of Hillary Clinton during the recent disappointing electoral campaign, and over the years has been surrounded by characters, to say the least. In his circle of friends appears Robert Young Pelton, owner of a business (Dpx) that produces combat knives. Exactly. Knives already tested in conflict zones such as Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq and Burma. Is that not enough? A chair of the MOAS council is reserved for Ian Ruggier, ex-Maltese official famous for violently repressing the protests of migrants lodged on the island. Strange, isn’t it? Professing reception and then using the “hard fist”. Other than having some dark sides, it seems the NGOs also have a consistency.