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Thursday June 13, 2024

Migrant charity defies Italy over surveillance plane restrictions

Decision marked the latest Italian attempt to curb the activities of migrant aid groups

By Reuters
May 09, 2024
Seabird, a plane operated by German NGO Sea-Watch, is seen from the migrant rescue ship Sea-Watch 3 as it patrols the search and rescue zone in international waters off the coast of Libya, in the western Mediterranean Sea, July 28, 2021. — Reuters
Seabird, a plane operated by German NGO Sea-Watch, is seen from the migrant rescue ship Sea-Watch 3 as it patrols the search and rescue zone in international waters off the coast of Libya, in the western Mediterranean Sea, July 28, 2021. — Reuters

ROME: A German rescue charity on Wednesday launched a fresh aerial surveillance mission from Italy to track down migrant boats in difficulty in the central Mediterranean, defying restrictions by Italian authorities.

The Italian Civil Aviation Authority (ENAC) this week said it was banning small planes used by migrant charities from airports on the islands of Sicily, Pantelleria and Lampedusa, which are the closest to sea migration routes.

The decision marked the latest Italian attempt to curb the activities of migrant aid groups, which have been accused by Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s right-wing administration of attracting irregular migration.

“ENAC bans human rights monitoring over the Mediterranean. Aircraft belonging to NGOs are no longer allowed to fly. Our response: (our plane) Seabird took off today (from Lampedusa) shortly after 1 pm,” the Sea-Watch charity wrote on X.