EU agencies and officials accuse NGOs of assisting people smugglers off Libyan coast
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According to a report in the Financial Times, EU border agency Frontex has accused NGOs of colluding with people smugglers operating in the central Mediterranean, stating in a confidential report that it has logged the: "First reported case where the criminal networks were smuggling migrants directly on an NGO vessel.
Similarly, in an internal report drafted by the head of Operation Sophia, the EU's military mission against smuggling in the Mediterranean, NGOs are accused of making migrant smugglers' work easier by operating closer to the Libyan shore than the EU's vessels.
See: EU border force accuses charities of collusion with migrant smugglers (Financial Times, link):
"The EUs border agency has accused charities operating in the Mediterranean of colluding with people smugglers, according to confidential reports seen by the Financial Times.
The accusations from Frontex bring to the fore a long-simmering dispute between EU officials and non-governmental organisations over how to resolve a migration crisis that has caused the deaths of 4,700 people this year alone.
Frontex put its concerns in a confidential report last month, raising the idea that migrants had been given clear indications before departure on the precise direction to be followed in order to reach the NGOs boats."
And: Working document of the European Union External Action Service, EUNAVFOR MED Op SOPHIA - Six Monthly Report 1 January - 31 October 2016 (Council document 14978/16, RESTRICTED, 30 November 2016 pdf):
"Migrant smugglers were increasingly observed trying to recover their vessels and engines, as EUNAVFOR MED Operation SOPHIA (ENFM) continued to dispose of such boats, whenever not possible to transport them to Italy to support investigations or prosecutions. Smugglers are relying on an increasing number of NGO rescue vessels that are operating close to, and sometimes within, Libyan territorial waters while ENFM maintained a deterrence effect on the high seas."
This latter report is examined in more detail in an analysis published today by Statewatch: The EUs military mission against Mediterranean migration: what deterrent effect? (pdf)
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