Far-right Defend Europe ship ends mission after litany of humiliating setbacks

Isabelle Gerretsen
identitarian

Far-right, anti-immigrant activists who chartered a ship earlier this summer to disrupt the work of NGOs rescuing refugees in the Mediterranean have ended their mission.

Members of the Identitarian movement raised more than €75,000 (£67,000) via a crowdfunding website earlier this year to hire the 30-person ship, named the 'C-Star', and launch their 'Defend Europe' project.

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The group blames NGO rescue missions for propelling the refugee crisis by providing people with a safe passage to Europe.

Its far-right members vowed to "chase down the enemies of Europe" by disrupting the work of NGOs in the Mediterranean, but were forced to cut their mission short on Monday (21 August) after a series of humiliating setbacks.

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In July, the C-Star ran into trouble when it was seized by immigration authorities in Cyprus. The ship's captain and his deputy were reportedly taken into custody on people-smuggling allegations.

Earlier this month, the ship's anti-migrant crew members were forced to accept help from a refugee rescue boat when C-Star's engine failed off the coast of Italy.

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The ship suffered a mechanical failure on 11 August, forcing the crew to issue a distress call to the Italian coastguard. A German refugee rescue boat named Sea-Eye responded to the call and rushed to help the troubled vessel.

Michael Buschheuer, the chairman of Sea-Eye, said: "To help in distressed persons is the duty of everyone who is at sea – indifferent to their origin, skin color, religion or spirit."

Despite the C-Star having spent little time at sea, its crew members have hailed their mission a "political success".

"Only two months ago, many NGOs sailed in front of the Libyan coasts, like cabs waiting for customers. Today, there is only one," the group said during a press conference where members posed in front of a 'mission accomplished' banner.

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