05:50 GMT14 August 2020
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    The German mission of the aid group Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF, or Doctors Without Borders) strongly rejects the accusations of alleged cooperation with human traffickers, Florian Westphal, the head of the German branch of the organization, said on Friday.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — On Wednesday, media reported that the Italian coastguard seized a migrant rescue boat run by the German NGO Jugend Rettet over allegations that the charity aided human smugglers in the Mediterranean.

    "We are offended by these harsh rebukes. We have heard serious accusations over several months without any proof," Westphal told the Spiegel newspaper.

    Westphal added that numerous political groups, as well as the prosecution, suspect the NGOs of direct cooperation with human traffickers. He called it an "unprecedented reproach," since the aid organizations are dealing with the direct consequences of human smuggling, saving the people survived in attempts to cross the Mediterranean, as well retrieving the dead bodies.

    The German MSF and the Jugend Rettet are among several NGOs who have refused to sign the code of conduct, proposed by the Italian government, for those entities involved in migrant sea rescue operations. The head of the Italian MFS said that the organization could not agree with the presence of policemen on board the rescue ships, as stipulated in the code. Jugend Rettet said they were unwilling to sign the code because the proposed rules did not seem to put priority on the rescue.

    The code was signed by Save the Children, Migrant Offshore Aid Station and other groups.

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    Tags:
    cooperation, human trafficking, Der Spiegel, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), Germany
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