ROME - NGOs carrying out rescue operations in the Mediterranean have been at odds with the Italian government for years. SOS MEDITERRANNEE claims to perform its duty as mandated by international maritime law. Italy fights back with administrative sanctions.
Every day, hundreds of people still risk the dangerous crossing of the Mediterranean from Libya and Tunisia to reach Europe. With at least 2,498 victims in 2023, it remains the deadliest migration route in the world. SOS MEDITERRANEE, together with other NGOs, tries to keep that figure as low as possible. Even though most of the rescue operations are carried out by Italy itself, NGOs face a lot of opposition. Journalist Adriaan Cartuyvels went aboard the Ocean Viking for two weeks between Christmas and New Year. The ship saved 244 lives from drowning and was subsequently detained for 20 days by Italian authorities under the recently introduced Piantedosi decree. What is going on in the Mediterranean?