Migrant NGOs volunteers receiving death threats in Malta

Migrant NGOs volunteers receiving death threats in Malta

Say they rely solely on donations

Volunteers from migrant rescue NGOs have been at the receiving end of hate speech that has at times escalated to death threats, it has emerged.

Speaking during a Q&A session organised by Moviment Graffiti on Friday evening, representatives from the various NGOs based in Malta said that in recent weeks hate speech has escalated, with some volunteers receiving death threats online.

“We have been receiving quite a lot of hate speech and death threats in recent weeks and while they are not the majority, they do form a big part of what we see on the internet.

“We want to show the public that civil society is not made up of these people. If you do spend time on the internet, do share and like so that more people can see this,” Neeske Beckmann from MV Lifeline, which is currently detained in Malta, said.

Watch: As NGO vessels are detained, 628 migrants die at sea

Speaking during the event, Ms Beckmann urged people who spend time online to use their presence on social media to spread information and positive content.

The representatives also dismissed claims by members of the audience that they received funds from the EU, insisting that they were funded from donations that trickled in.

Asked about accusations that they were facilitating trafficking, Tamino Böhn from NGO Sea Watch said this argument could be proved wrong by looking at the numbers, which he said showed that with more NGOs around to monitor the Mediterranean, the less the number of migrants.

Describing the moment volunteers approached migrants, Markus Groda from Sea Eye said that upon reaching the people, they immediately handed over life vests, noting that anything could happen to the rubber boats “in a second”.

“We first give everybody a life vest, because the rubber boats are not made of the best material especially after a long journey and any second something can happen to the boat. If an accident occurs, it’s almost impossible to save them without the life vest.

Once the people have the life vest we check for medical cases and we only act as first-responders,” Mr Groda went on. 

Read: Malta blocks humanitarian aircraft

Members of the Patrijotti Maltin held a banner reading "Stop Human Trafficking" outside where the event was being held.