Far-right ‘Identitarians’ have paid to hire a ship in order to disrupt search-and-rescue missions in the Mediterranean.
The “Defend Europe” group secured a ship with a range of 3000 nautical miles, a place for a crew of 25, and a crane for RIBs [small inflatable boats] to disrupt the work of humanitarian search-and-rescue NGO ships, according to HOPE not hate.
They plan to “defend” Europe at sea, and used the purchase as a publicity stunt, with videos uploaded later that evening and following morning announcing a further crowdfunding drive.
According to the site’s current FAQ, Defend Europe intends to follow search-and-rescue vessels, document their activities and ‘confront’ them by blockading them on the seas.
The aim is to force the NGO ships to alter their routes, drain their financial and organisational resources, as well inspire others to support the mission.
There have also been reports of far-right activists seeking to gather information on the operations of aid organisations and even aid workers themselves, the campaign group reported.
Humanitarian groups rescued over 1,000 migrants in the Mediterranean earlier this month.
Laura Lanuza, the spokeswoman for Spain’s Proactiva Open Arms, said that while two migrants perished in international waters off the Libyan coast, the Spanish aid group and five other humanitarian organizations saved 1,058 migrants after intercepting several smugglers’ boats.