Southern Neighbourhood
Migration and mobility

The Italian authorities have grounded the Moonbird, the reconnaissance aircraft of the NGO Sea-Watch that flies over the Mediterranean. Commenting on this decision, the German NGO assured that it is a “political decision that seeks to prevent anyone from knowing what is happening at sea”.

Charged with spotting migrant boats in the Mediterranean, the Moonbird was grounded on Italian soil last Friday with a ban on departure until further notice. The aircraft was grounded after “spending too many hours over the sea” according to Sea-Watch, which accuses the European Union and the Italian government of trying to hide the situation at sea.

Having a surveillance role off the Libyan coast, the Moonbird alerts ships in the central Mediterranean to launch rescue operations for migrants’ boats in distress.

During an interview with last July, the German NGO said that since 2017, the Moonbird has carried out more than 300 missions and estimates that it has spotted “about 20.000 people in distress”.