Lifesavers or Smugglers? How Sea-Watch and Italy Play Political Games With Migrants | The Dispatch

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Captain Arturo Centore
has only minutes to prepare his crew. The Italian police have come
to take him off his ship and into custody. He’s accused of
human trafficking. It’s the latest battle
on the world’s deadliest migration route. And I wanted to know:
Do these ships encourage human smuggling
or are they the last remaining
lifelines for migrants who feel abandoned
by the E.U.? Just three years ago,
Sea-Watch was one of the many
search-and-rescue NGOs in the Mediterranean. But as Europe shut its ports,
most operations ceased. On this day, it is the only
rescue ship working in the area. And there’s no louder
opponent than Italy’s far-right interior minister,
Matteo Salvini. He sends a message
to the crew. It was meant to be a
day of practice drills. But then, a call from a
nearby surveillance plane. “Woo!” We head toward
the Libyan coast. More than 18,000 migrants
have died trying to cross the
Mediterranean since 2014. I was prepared
to see the worst, but the scene
today is different. And some of the
crew are trying to build a case for the intervention. And it seems as
if the migrants expected the ship’s arrival. Migrants: “O.K.” Thank you. Sixty-five men, women
and children from West and Central Africa come aboard after
a night at sea. Many migrants had left to
escape poverty and violence. Instead, they ended
up stuck in Libya, most in detention
centers where many were subjected to
torture and extortion. Despite Salvini’s
repeated warnings, the captain sets a
course for Italy. But he stops short of entering
Italian waters and circles for a day. [baby crying] And then a surprise
move by the Italians: an offer to allow migrants
to disembark, but only the families. Captain Arturo and
the head of mission, Phil, wrestle with the idea
of separating the migrants. [baby crying] With the boat still in
international waters, the Italian Coast Guard
comes out to take the families
off the ship. Captain Arturo is in
a difficult position. If he defies Salvini by
pushing into Italian waters, the remaining migrants
could claim asylum, but as captain he would
be liable for illegally crossing the border. The ship is now in Italy,
but the police order Arturo to anchor before
reaching the shoreline. [cheering] For the first time,
the migrants decide to speak out
and appeal to the world through social media. But nobody will get to
hear their messages. The media effort is
interrupted by a call. It’s the Italian police. They’re here to
collect evidence. A prosecutor has
ordered the boat to be seized for violating
immigration laws. The police question
Captain Arturo on his role in the mission. Finally, the police order
the migrants to disembark. [cheering] The standoff is over. And these migrants
are among the lucky few to make it across the sea. Their call for
help was answered.


  1. Hello, everybody. I spent 10 days aboard the Sea-Watch 3 and produced this video. I'll be keeping an eye on the comments for any questions you might have. Ask me anything! /Puoi anche guardare questo video con i sottotitoli in italiano facendo clic su "Settings", "Subtitles/CC" e poi "Italian".

  2. Very painful experience the migrants faced. Its also unfortunatr the African governnments are doing literally nothing to prevent this.

  3. Really great reporting from the NYT (their video docs seem to be getting better and better).

    It's interesting to see how the migrants practically use Sea-Watch as an extension to their immigration plan: if the weather is good, they know they will be rescued and brought towards Italy (and more broadly, Europe). From a humanitarian standpoint bringing these people towards Europe can be considered a good thing.
    If the migrants were transported by SW towards the nearest port instead of bringing them to Europe the rate of these dangerous "trips of hope" would surely decrease, but if migrants know that they will be rescued from the situations they put themselves in and brought towards Europe, both casualties and migration rates will not decrease.

    Saving people from drowning in the Mediterranean by bringing them to a safe port is one thing, transporting people from Africa to Europe and indirectly encouraging migration is both causing more deaths in the long run and is highly problematic from a legal and ethical standpoint.

  4. Its not like these people are saved close to the Italiën border. They pick them up a couple of km from the lybian coast. Its smuggling.

  5. I see this as a return to 1850. Abolitionists refusing to comply with fugitive slave laws. Like a new underground railroad.

  6. Interesting to hear the Sea Watch people admitting they are essentially lying about the state of the boat “just to have a distress reason”.

  7. Love all the people in here who blame the captain of human trafficking with the connotation that hes bad even though he saved these migrants from abuse and torture. At the end of the day, change has to be made because most people who are immigrants arent dangerous and rather are looking for a new start in life.

  8. How does this man feel about the crimes against the Italian/Euro people that they have basically encouraged on this illegal endeavour. How do they justify these actions to the victims of their homeland?

  9. Smugglers. Now you don't need to watch the video. I mean, for god's sake it's obvious they were smugglers.

  10. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for caring about these people's lifes. It doesn't matter why they risk it, it matters that they are so desperate, that they are willing to die for it. Smuggling is a concept that only exists in tandem with border and bordercontrol and those are pretty arbritrary constructs. Much love ?

  11. Well, the ships that are going to rescue migrants are part of the " smuggler " business, they can´t deny the fact!

  12. As an American.

    Congratulations Europe, the chickens have come home to roost. The seeds you implanted during colonialism have led to this.

    Good luck.

  13. Non sono italiano, ma penso che la situazione d'immigrazione in Italia, non é lo stesso come la situazione americano. I messicani sono simili come gli americani, con la stessa cultura. Ma in italia, i immigranti hanno una cultura completamente differente. Secondo me, c'é un punto quando ci sono troppi immigranti. Ma che pensate? Cerco di mantenere una mente aperta ?

  14. Notice how media outlets never use the term "far left" or "extreme left"? It's as if those political factions don't exist. It's "far right" everything. NYT is just another gossip and vanity rag for Bezo's and his elitists pals to scold the commoners. Remember, they are more virtuous than you and know what is best for YOU.

  15. Is there any form of population control in the entire continent of Africa? These countries have not made an attempt to help themselves FIRST China implemented a ONE CHILD POLICY that's acting responsibly.
    If they indeed need rescuing, couldn't they take them back from where they started? If a law has been established and you break it, you must pay the price. The long term burden is not on Sea Watch. Pawning your irresponsible actions on someone else is also not fair. There are many other ways to be noble

  16. Thank god there are no military vessels in the area where a torpedo is accidentally launched (ahem) sending these smugglers and their ships to the bottom of the ocean. We wouldn't want these rogue smuggler captains to get the fear of God in them or something. Heavens no.

  17. I mean it’s the law. If I don’t like the fact murder is illegal I’m not going to go do it anyways. Maybe these people bringing in illegal aliens to Italy should instead take a different approach, appealing to government officials.

  18. God bless these heroes for saving lives, even at the risk of prison. this is the answer to the question of wwjd.

  19. It's easy to NOBLE on someone else's expense
    What is the criminal background of EACH single individual?
    What is the health history of EACH of these individuals? Are there any Ebola or other pandemic concerns?
    Who pays for the cost to do these tasks?

  20. Why risk going to Italy when most Italian people are tired of immigrants flooding their country? They can just drop them off at Greece or the Balkan peninsula or maybe drop them off at the south of France or even in Spain. Those counties seem love being flooded by migrants.

    ITS A SHAME!!!

  22. you know
    France is causing this migrant crisis by imposing a monetary system that they can't control.

    why is France even an ally?
    why don't we impose sanctions on France instead.

  23. Just search for world map IQ and you will realize that uncontrolled immigration from underdeveloped countrys could cause damage to the progress of modern nations, thats why they should bring those illegal migrants back to the African coast.

  24. Smugglers. Those unseaworthy boats full of migrants wouldn't even be in that danger in the first place if the traffickers didn't know they'd be able to pass them off to trafficking NGOs to finish the job for them. Search for the GPS coordinates of these ships, the traffickers take migrants to a dumping ground, and the NGOs go and pick them up from that dumping ground, like a relay race: straight-up population transfer

  25. “I follow the rescue boats in instagram.” “I don’t want to risk my life.” Rational man. How rational was it for Hillary to destroy Lydia so she could get her thrills killing Gaddafi? Or, Obama destabilizing Syria (remember the red line? what a joke.). The Russians and Iranians wouldn’t be in Syria but for Obama. The migrants are victims. They are not victims of the countries that don’t want them. They are victims of the jerks that ruin their countries.

  26. Jesus ???.. so sad to see this .. ???BIg thank you for the captain he tray to help this people .. GOD bless for his crew?

  27. The Seawatch3 just spent 14 days trolling off the coast of Lampedusa, it could have gone to any open port in the EU.
    Why keep those people hostage for your own political agenda?
    That's NOT sea rescue it's playing a game with peoples lives.

  28. Odd how the NGOs that run these rescue ships all support the global socialist ideal of racial mixing and cultural homogeneity.

  29. With out a doubt those migrants know sea watch is out there, they know all they have to do is get a little out to sea and boom a free ride to Europe, EU citizenship, then they are free to come to the UK. It needs to stop.

  30. Most of these stories are lies. It's been proven even the NGO's coach them on what to say for asylum claims, total liars.

  31. Facing prison for being on the right, just and moral side of history. These "legal" actions are taken to try to cover-up the shame of everyone else who coldly and inhumanely hates on immigrants. History will and must judge the people who hate and prolong the suffering and created the conditions that caused the migration.

  32. This boat puts themselves on social media so the economic migrants know when to get on their boat. It makes me so mad. It's all about money. Look how excited they got when they got a call about migrants trying to cross.

  33. Sink these vessels with all the liberal clowns onboard, it is about time they got proper employment instead of encouraging third world invaders to attack Europe.

  34. We would need to stop sanctioning them, stealing from them and fomenting social breakdown in their countries so as to prevent China and Russia gaining an economic foothold there. Our conceit will not allow that. So they will continue to suffer.

  35. Wait until climate change impacts the third world countries.
    Hundreds of millions of people will be on their way. I don't say that with a xenophobic undertone. It's a fact. And we will have a big problem. because people in the EU are already fed up and whipped up from right-wing extremists parties.

  36. We need to throw out all corrupted government officials and make these countries a place where they can grow and prosper by staying in their homeland….

  37. Dumb people. No one country or few nations can helps immigrants. Instead powerful countries should help weak or dictatorship countries countries to develop and live with equal rights. A point will come where immigrants will not move along with local culture and may invloved in crimes.

  38. I don't understand how Europeans can hate the immigrants? If they really want to hate someone it should be their goverment for making a policy that allowed anyone to come in Europe for safety but when people actually needed to come for safety they eventually stopped it. Yes I know a good number of immigrants is "healthy" males and they act like "animals" but what are you really expecting from people who live in shitholes and see poverty, crime and sadness all their life and now the only option for them is to die in pieces in their belonged country or try to be safe in Europe. I think it would be much better if Europe give them education and make them realize that they are supposed to make their own money by doing small jobs.

    Smugglers…………….Smugglers 10 YEARS IS NOTHING

    Smugglers…………….Smugglers 10 YEARS IS NOTHING

    Smugglers…………….Smugglers 10 YEARS IS NOTHING

  42. I sympathize with these people.
    They are searching for a better life just like everyone else.

    However, I don't find the idea of letting whoever has enough money to pay the smugglers and survives the route through the Sahara and the sea a sensible policy.

    I would try to establish skills based immigration programs and build skill centers in Africa, where migrants can learn and then apply to come to Europe or America.

  43. they seem extremely well fed for being poor immigrants. i don't think they're terrorists but
    they're fit enough to stay in their country. i think the poor and weak as always left behind dying.

  44. I get these the need to pick these vulnerable people up from their unseaworthy rafts, but why are they not delivering them back to Libya (especially if its off their coast they're being picked up)? Poverty is not a valid cause of asylum, and they showed footage of some admitting they only travel because of the rescue boats. There is little doubt people smugglers are exploiting the sea-watch's compassion and heart.

  45. these ships enable the smuglers….it should be war ships doing this job,rescue the people at sea,yes,but return them to libya….the smuglers would be out of a job in no time…..they are making the crisis worst!

  46. They are not recusing anyone. The illegal invaders are dropped off when they KNOW the "rescue ships" are there. They pay for this. All these ships should be scuttled. They are invariably captained by leftie arses who wish to destroy our cultures by importing young Muslim men and a token woman and baby or two. No free anything for immigrants will see the swarm slow up in no time. People in need of real sanctuary need to rescued from the source. These hordes of young men are NOT asylum seekers: they are on the gravy train.

  47. Smugglers without a doubt. They are waiting to be rescued. Probably have their own boat waiting for them if ''Sea-Watch'' dosnen't show up. Get the entire crew to prison!

  48. 100% white people all trying hard to destroy the countries their glorious white male ancestors fought and bled and died to create. So shameful, disgusting what white men have become.

  49. "Rescued"? They facilitate the invasion and destruction of Italy. They should be met with military force in exactly the same way Italy would if they were being invaded by a military enemy. The crews of these ships ARE criminals.

  50. USE YOUR HEAD…………the same people that seek asylum are the perpetrators of the war and violence !

  51. I would like Sea Watch to help the people from Mexico to get to the United States on your ship instead of them crossing the border.

  52. First of all the operators attitude is not appropriate for the situation. Looks like they are out fishing salmons instead of saving lives. I can see many rich white bored youngsters trying to have fun and give a meaning to their lives in this eccentric way.

    Second thing, these guys repetitely ask to the migrants if they know about Seawatch by following them on YouTube or Twitter.
    So wait a moment, poor desperate migrants with no bread to eat, escaping from war ravaged scenarios, with a wifi connection and a personal computer with enough time to follow Twitter and YouTube accounts? I am Italian myself, sometimes I am on YouTube but I don't even have time to manage a Twitter account.

    Finally, each one these so called migrants pays from a minimum of 2000 to 5000 dollars pro-capita to smugglers to be carried to these so called humanitarian organization. Basically the middle class of Africa is trying to reach Europe to benefit the refugee status. With the exception that once in Italy, European countries will give this status only to a small percentage of them, the remaining part will stay in Italy unrecognized, wandering for Italian roads and countrysides, living by alms, drug dealing and other small crimes.

    Luckiest of them will end working as slaves for Italian farmers at 2 euros a day, while their women will crowd the roads of Castelvolturno and Varcaturo (near Naples) to sell their bodies as prostitutes for 15 euros/person.

    Whoever denies what I am saying, that I know for personal experience is a hypocrite.

    Something is terribly wrong about this whole situation.

  53. This video makes me furious, watching those ecosophical German college drop-out hippies on the boat ask "Do you follow us on Twitter?" Make it stop, we can't accept them. Let my country keep its culture and values! Salvini will be laughing the same way the Visegrad countries are laughing right now, in a few years. The world's greatest "Told you so" is coming up for many of Europe's progressive left wing-governed countries.

  54. I'm disgusted by these people, disgusted by this video trying to put in better light these smugglers.
    They violated all international and Italian laws in order to force illegal immigrants into Italy. If their intention was to save lives, they would have brought them to the closest safe port which is in Tunisia. Instead they decided to do more than the double of distance to force them in Italy for business.
    And this area WAS the deadliest, now, thanks to Minniti and Salvini's policies, deaths in sea are one tenth of the 2016, year of the biggest ONG activity.

  55. Pretty amazing admission at 3.50 which I’m sure the NGOs would rather didn’t get out. Thanks reporter for not editing it out.

  56. I do get the feeling that these people smugling africans get their entire identity from it. It is almost as if they need it to make sense of the world. I do however not belive they do anyone a favor. Think about it this way: most western countries have expensive systems. These systems can function because the citizens it create are of very high value. Illegal immigrants are in most cases a net negative for such countries. They cannot function with high numbers of immigrants – especially the illegal kind who most-often do not pay taxes cause they can't work in legitimate positions. This isnt including cultural barriers and the cost of fustrated natives. Would it not be better to help them in their own countries? Bring capital e.g. by starting production lines in such countries. Helping them help themselves.

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