An Italian state prosecutor has accused non-governmental organisations working to save migrants in the Mediterranean of being funded by the very smugglers that put them there.
“In my view, some NGOs could be financed by smugglers,” Carmelo Zuccaro told broadcaster Rai 3 on Thursday, doubling down on his previous claims that the organisations are in cahoots with Libyan people-smuggling groups.
“The matter could be even more worrying,” Zuccaro said, adding that some organisations could be operating with the goal “to destabilise the Italian economy in order to benefit from that.”
However, Italian Finance Minister Andrea Orlando cautioned against rash conclusions.
Speaking to Repubblica TV, Orlando said he hoped that the state prosecution service’s comments were based on the results of investigations.
Zuccaro said: “state prosecutor of the Sicilian city of Catania, has opened investigations into a suspected link between volunteers and smuggling groups.
“There are allegedly cases in which the two have direct contacts.
“The allegations do not apply to large charities, like Save the Children or Doctors Without Borders ”.
Save the Children on Thursday demanded an end to the allegations, arguing in a statement that they could create a “climate of distrust that harms refugee children, women and men.”
There are currently at least 10 NGOs carrying out sea rescues in the Mediterranean, including half a dozen German organisations.