Migrant charity flouts Italian ban on surveillance flights

Migrant charity flouts Italian ban on surveillance flights
Surveillance mission conducted by NGO Sea-Watch over the Mediterranean / Credit: Sea-Watch

A German rescue charity defied Italian restrictions by launching a new aerial surveillance mission from Italy to locate migrant boats in distress in the central Mediterranean, according to Reuters. The Italian Civil Aviation Authority (ENAC) recently prohibited small planes used by migrant charities from operating out of airports on the islands of Sicily, Pantelleria, and Lampedusa. The ban represents the latest effort by Italy’s right-wing government to limit the activities of migrant aid groups, which it accuses of abetting illegal migration.

Sea-Watch, a German NGO, condemned the ban in a statement on X, and said its plane Seabird took off from Lampedusa Wednesday afternoon.

In announcing the ban Monday, ENAC deemed NGO planes "unwarranted," arguing they impeded official rescue teams and risked endangering migrants’ safety. Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has tightened regulations on migrant arrivals andrestricted the operations of charity rescue ships. She has also worked closely with the EU to convince Tunisia and Libya to slow irregular migration from their shores.

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