There has been a heated debate on the role of the NGOs working to rescue asylum seekers in the Mediterranean this year. I know very little about this issue, even though it is closely related to my work as a researcher. One reason for my ignorance has to do with the fact that we receive very confusing information. Most of what we know is anecdotal, while we ignore the facts, the numbers, the rules, the institutions that are involved. The one person who has been trying to put things into context, provide some history, explain the rules and the sources of tension is Giacomo Zandonini.
Giacomo is a freelance journalist who has done serious and first-hand research on migration. In 2016 he produced the movie Wallah Je Te Jure, which tells the stories of men and women travelling along West African migration routes to Italy. Also in 2016 he spent two weeks on the boat Aquarius of the humanitarian NGO Sos Mediterraneé and then in 2017 he spent two more weeks on the boat Golfo Azzurro working for the humanitarian NGO Proactiva Open Arms.
There are a number of articles that Giacomo wrote. Here I will link those I have read myself. In English:
How the humanitarian NGOs operate at sea;
The long wait of young unaccompanied minors in Italy
Quelle notti a bordo della nave Golfo Azzurro a salvare gente in mare e raccogliere cadaveri;
Migranti, le Ong ne hanno salvati quasi 10 mila ma continuano a subire critiche e pressioni;
In Niger i migranti si preparano alla grande traversata
If you have half an hour spare time, you can also watch Giacomo’s talk at the Festival of Journalism held in Perugia in April this year (in Italian; however, there is a short part of the video that is just images and sounds recorded by Giacomo at the sea and you can watch it below). Giacomo and I write together for Unimondo. You can follow Giacomo on twitter here.