Desperate refugees and migrants making the treacherous and often deadly trip across the Mediterranean on flimsy rafts and boats this summer may face a new obstacle: the European alt-right.
That’s because Generation Identity wants to explicitly target humanitarian boats that race against time to save the lives of refugees. It’s only June, and already the United Nations has confirmed some 2,247 migrant deaths in the Mediterranean — a number that rises almost weekly in warm months. In 2016, 5,000 died making the voyage.
“We are blaming those NGOS for luring people into the sea,” Martin Sellner, a founder of the Austrian branch of the movement, told me in a Skype interview. “We think those NGOs need to be stopped.” He and his colleagues believe the NGOs are, in essence, enabling the human traffickers by meeting the boats that capsize or break apart on the sea.
“Saving people’s lives appears to be an afterthought to [their] primary goal of preventing people from entering Europe,” says Simon Murdoch, a researcher at the UK-based group HOPE not hate. “In fact, by delaying or impeding rescue missions, it seems far more likely that [they’re] putting more lives at risk on the high seas, particularly vulnerable women, children, and the elderly.”