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Screenshot from Quarta Repubblica report on human trafficking

Smuggler: ‘Yes, we are in contact with Sea-Watch’

Just a few days ago, the German Foreign Minister Minister Heiko Maas (SPD) claimed on Twitter that the argument was false that NGOs such as Sea-Watch and others lead to African migrants taking the dangerous route across the Mediterranean.

Published: July 18, 2019, 10:07 am

    Rome

    “It is proven that is is not the prospect of rescue in the Mediterranean which causes people to make their way to Europe, but poverty and lack of prospects in their home countries.”

    But a report on Italian television on Monday showed that this notion voiced by Maas needs to be thoroughly revised.

    In the talk show Quarta Repubblica [Fourth Republic] on the station Rete 4, Interior Minister Matteo Salvini (Lega) announced a week ago, that there was hard evidence of collusion between smugglers and non-governmental organisations.

    In a five-minute film on the same programme, it showed migrants on board a tugboat shouting and dancing before their rescue . They called home telling their relatives that they were soon going to be in Europe.

    The festive atmosphere on the tug is in stark contrast to the cinematic masterpieces of German rescuers such as the Sea Watch documentary by ARD Panorama.

    Videos revealing the real circumstances have also been circulating on Facebook for a long time. In one, a Libyan explained the procedure.

    At least two videos show a departure from Zuwara in Libya, and the other the arrival in Italy, to make it clear that everything went well. “The [Libyan] Mafia bribes the Libyan police, so they do not stop the boats,” explained the source.

    On the beach, the authorities see the tugs, but nothing was done about it because there had been an agreement. The 21-year-old Libyan, who reached Italy a few weeks ago, also mentioned the name of the contact, known as Lukman Zauari.

    On Facebook he has organised in a secret group for crossings from Libya to Italy. “When I asked him if the crossing was safe, he said ‘yes’. He works with ships that rescue people from the Mediterranean. He said there are many. ”

    The journalist then asks if the contact man has said that he was in contact with the Sea rescuers in the Mediterranean? “Yes, yes, he said he was in contact with many ships of distress rescuers. Sea-Watch and many others whose name I do not remember.”

    He said the places where these ships such as Sea-Watch were waiting, are known. If anything happened, he reported it to Sea-Watch. On his cell phone he showed the many phone numbers from different organisations. “About four or five numbers. Including one from Sea-Watch. ”

    An Italian journalist actually called Lukman Zauari, pretending to be a Moroccan migrant who wants to cross over to Italy. The conversation was held on the encrypted chat service Viber. “The crossing costs 1 600 euros,” said the thug.

    When the  journalist objected that he was very worried about the crossing, Lukman said: “I am a serious and professional man. […] We’re in contact with Sea-Watch, but right now the ship on the move is Open Arms.” The journalist then asks: “So you’re in touch with them, and if something happens, you call them to save us?”

    Lukman responds: “Yes, yes, I’m in contact with them.”

    The fact is that the human trafficking system depends heavily on the work of the NGOs by exploiting their GPS-recorded whereabouts. It is beyond doubt after this exclusive Italian report.

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