Italian Prosecutor: Evidence NGOs Colluding with Human Traffickers

WE TOLD YOU SO. Italy should investigate the dubious role of Eritrean regime-change hopefuls cum “human rights activists” in order to get to the bottom of the collusion between charity organizations and human smugglers. Father Mussie Zerai, Meron Estefanos and Elsa Chyrum have, allegedly, a role in serving as a liaison between smugglers and rescuers. Their actions on the trafficking of Eritrean migrants warrants an investigation.


An Italian prosecutor says he has evidence some of the charities saving migrants in the Mediterranean Sea are colluding with people-smugglers.

Carmelo Zuccaro told La Stampa (in Italian) phone calls were being made from Libya to rescue vessels.

Organisations involved in rescue operations have rejected accusations of collusion, saying their only concern is to save lives.

Italy is the main route for migrants trying to reach Europe.

Almost 1,000 people are thought to have drowned in waters between Libya and Italy this year, according to the UN refugee agency.

Nearly 37,000 people have been rescued over the same period, a surge of more than 40% from last year, the figures say.

“We have evidence that there are direct contacts between certain NGOs [non-governmental organisations] and people traffickers in Libya,” Mr Zuccaro is quoted as saying in La Stampa.

He said that telephone calls were being made from Libya and rescuers were shining lamps to direct smugglers’ vessels and turning off transponders so boats could not be traced. But he did not say he would open a criminal investigation.

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>> MUST READ : The Traffic Racket: The Eritrean “Activists”
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Mr Zuccaro’s comments come amid growing criticism of NGO activity in the Mediterranean. The EU border agency Frontex said the work was tantamount to providing a taxi service to Europe.

But Chris Catrambone, who co-founded the Migrant Offshore Aid Station NGO to rescue migrants, told Reuters news agency “more would die if we weren’t there”.

Italian Prosecutor Accuses NGOs of Colluding with Human Traffickers in Libya

NGOs colluding with smugglers
“There is an investigation of the judiciary in progress and there are two reports from Frontex that accuse NGOs not only of collusion with the smugglers but also of allowing criminals to directly use the boats of NGOs to transport the immigrants.” – Luigi Di Maio, vice president of the Chamber of Deputies, a house of Italy’s parliament. (Photo: © Darrin Zammit Lupi / Reuters)


A prosecutor in Sicily has made the extraordinary claim that NGO migrant rescue boats are in direct communication and collusion with human traffickers in Libya.

“We have evidence that there are direct contacts between certain NGOs and people traffickers in Libya,” Carmelo Zuccaro told Italian newspaper La Stampa.

“We do not yet know if and how we could use this evidence in court, but we are quite certain about what we say; telephone calls from Libya to certain NGOs, lamps that illuminate the route to these organizations’ boats, boats that suddenly turn off their transponders, are ascertained facts,” he said.

Zuccaro is a member of a group of prosecutors investigating the trafficking and exploitation of migrants. He told Italy’s parliament in March that he was sure traffickers were in contact with rescuers, but didn’t have proof.

Some of the organizations involved in migrant rescues include Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontiers), SOS Mediterranee, Save the Children and Malta-based Mobile Offshore Aid Station (MOAS). All have denied accusations that they are in collusion with traffickers.

According to La Stampa, prosecutors are investigating whether some of the newer NGOs involved in rescue operations could be financed by traffickers.

The anti-establishment 5-Star Movement party has also made accusations that NGOs are providing a “taxi service” for migrants.

Luigi Di Maio, vice president of the Chamber of Deputies, a house of Italy’s parliament, accused NGOs of being a “taxi of the Mediterranean,” and defended his statements in a Facebook post.

“There is an investigation of the judiciary in progress and there are two reports from Frontex that accuse NGOs not only of collusion with the smugglers but also of allowing criminals to directly use the boats of NGOs to transport the immigrants.”

Italy is part of an EU-backed plan to strengthen Libya’s coastguard to prevent boats leaving. This would see migrants being sent back to Libya, where recent reports have found migrants are being traded in slave markets.

There were 181,000 arrivals in Italy last year, and so far in 2017 there has been an increase of 40 percent year-on-year, with as many as 1,000 migrants alleged to have lost their lives, reports Reuters, citing the International Organization for Migration.


Citing ‘Eritrean Activists’

Father Mussie Zerai, an Eritrean Catholic priest from the Vatican’s Ethiopian College living in Rome, who has been implicated in facilitating and abetting trans-Mediterranean human smuggling following 2012 investigations by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

According to PACE’s report, Lives Lost in the Mediterranean: Who is Responsible?, Mussie allegedly served as a smuggling intermediary between the ‘captains’ of Italy-bound vessels and the Italian Coast Guard. Without his call, the migrants rescue was unlikely:

The “captain” had the phone, but nobody knew where he had got it from or who had added Father Zerai’s number to it. In a short conversation Father Zerai was informed that they were having problems…The Priest informed them that he would contact the Italian authorities to request assistance. Father Zerai subsequently contacted the Italian Coast Guard…

…However, in the meantime, the “captain” had thrown the compass and the satellite phone overboard when he thought the helicopter was going to rescue them. He explained that he did not want to be arrested for possession of the telephone and the compass. He feared that these items would be used as evidence of his involvement in a smuggling network….

If the captain is afraid of being implicated in smuggling, then how about Mussie Zerai, the man on the other side of the phone? What makes the coast guard willing to pick up the call from Mussie but not the captains themselves? Why does Mussie have this special monopoly?

Meron Estefanos:

“When desperate Eritrean migrants go to sea, they keep [Meron’s] phone number with them, in case things go wrong. When their relatives go missing at sea, she’s the one family members call.”

Like Mussie, Meron seems to serve as a liaison between the smugglers and rescuers. She often bears in hand a list of the smuggled Eritrean travelers, frequently tweeting from the scene of the tragedy, arriving before humanitarians and UNHCR officers, and giving quotes to the media.

Tweeting to a BBC Field Producer from ground following the 2013 Lampedusa tragedy, she wrote, “I have been passing names to UNHCR Italy and lampadusa center so that they can check for us. Will take days to get name list.” Two days later, she tweeted the list.

The actions of these “activists” over the last several years have brought to light the makings of what appears to be a multibillion dollar smuggling racket that likely involves not only long-entrenched criminals but also human rights ‘activists,’ non-governmental organizations (NGOs), UNHCR, state agencies and state officials across multiple nations.

Their opportunistic use of smuggling for personal gain in the form of political gain and exploitation of migrants, potentially makes them traffickers in a broader human trafficking network—or, the traffic racket. (NOTE: None of the above stories and allegations have been proven in Court, yet.)

62 thoughts on “Italian Prosecutor: Evidence NGOs Colluding with Human Traffickers

  1. Who are the individuals that are closely linked to the trafficking of Eritrea’s youth?

    1) NGO Name: Agencia Habeshia: –> Mussie Zerai
    2) NGO Name: Ghandhi: –> Alganesh Fesseha
    3) NGO Name: International Commission for Eritrean Refugees: –> Meron Estefanos, Yonas Mehari & Yebio Woldemariam
    4) NGO Name: Human Rights Concern Eritrea: — > Elsa Chyrum

    1. Each of these personalities hailed in the western media as angels and rescuers of Eritrea’s refugees and asylum seekers; has an organization that deals with Eritrean refugees. Today, the stench of the specter of their evil activities has filled the air and a million dollar questions are being asked by all concerned.

    2. How is it that they were the only ones privy to the information about the fateful boat and its occupants? Meron Estefanos once tweeting about a whole list of Lampedusa boat survivors within a few days. She is also on record tweeting about ransom payments and meetings with traffickers. Her Reporters San Frontiers (RSF) sponsored Radio Erena was the first to report of the incident.

      The orchestrated media campaign and flurry of related activities did not happen by coincidence…the whole sordid episode and its aftermath stink-of something ugly and inhuman.

    3. Mussie Zerai admits in his many tweets and reports that he communicated and remained in touch with the migrants through a “satellite phone” as they left Libya for the various Italian coasts and beyond:

      “…The migrants contacting him were initially Ethiopians and Eritreans living in Italy but from 2002 he started receiving phone calls directly from the boats crossing the sea. Despite telephones generally not being trusted for confidential communication by Eritreans, they are fundamental for the Eritrean diaspora in moments of emergency. In late 2010 Mussie Zerai started receiving calls from refugees living in Europe whose migrating family members had been kidnapped in the Sinai area and who were being asked for up to US$8,000 dollars per person in ransom. Those being blackmailed gave him their relatives’ phone numbers and he was able to talk directly to the kidnapped migrants. Armed with their first-hand accounts, Father Mussie has not only been supporting the relatives but has also been campaigning through his organisation, Habeshia Agency, to get the European Union and other organisations to create ‘humanitarian corridors’ and increase provision of resettlement to help avoid more refugees taking such risk…

      1. “…A few steps away from St. Peter’s Basilica, an Eritrean Catholic priest is on the phone with boats in the middle of the Mediterranean filled with African refugees fleeing Libya. Mussie Zerai receives calls from satellite phones on the boats and co-ordinates the arrival of hundreds of Eritreans, Ethiopians and Somalis with Italy’s coast guard and the NATO warships imposing a naval embargo on Libya…”

      2. “…From his office in the Vatican’s Ethiopian College, Father Mussie Zerai has a direct line to the middle of the Mediterranean Sea…Staying in touch by satellite phone, he is in constant contact with African migrants as they attempt the dangerous crossing to Europe… Fr Zerai has come under pressure from anti-immigration lobbyists and has been accused of encouraging illegal migration into Europe …”I don’t encourage anybody to come to Italy, or Europe in general,” he insists. “These people must flee in order to save their lives…”

      3. “…In total about 1,500 migrants drowned after trying to flee Libya last year, the deadliest year on the Mediterranean on record. When the migrants called Mussie Zerai, the Eritrean priest at the Vatican, on their second day at sea, they realized they could die if they were not soon rescued. “They were in a really bad situation,” Zerai told TIME. “I called the Italian Coast Guard and told them the situation, and gave them the satellite phone number…,8599,2112173,00.html

      4. A Christian leadership magazine had this to say about him:

        “…Father Mussie Zerai has been working with refugees and emigrants to Europe since 1995. Though not an ordained priest by then, he dedicated his life to helping the refugees entering Europe by boat from North Africa. He uses satellite phone, which makes his contacts with the refugees easier; as he can access them directly in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea as they make dangerous attempts of crossing into Europe…”

    4. TN, thank you for all your hard work on behalf of Eritreans. Eritreans are well informed, thanks to the best Eritrean website, (TN).

    5. ነዞም ኣብ ማእከል ባሕሪ ኮይኖም ረዳኢ ዝሓቱ ህጻውንትን ኣዴታትን ብ ተሎፎን ረዲኤት ክረኹቡ ዓቁሞም ዝተሓጋጋዙ ከም ባዓል ኣባ ሙሴ ዘርኣይን ሜሮን ስቲፋኖስን ኣሳጋገርቲ እዮም ኢልካ ምስባብ ነዞም ህጻውንቲ ካብ ሃገሮም ሰጉጓካ ከይ ኣክልሲ ነዛ ትልኽ ትብል ሂዎቶም ውን ምጽባእ እዩ ኩላትና ድማ ክንኩኑኖ ይግባእ ነዚ ኣረመናውን ዘይ ሰብኣውን ጠቀነ ሙሱልያት!!!!

      1. I am not sure you understand the gravity of the issue the Italian prosecutor is alleging here. He is say Fr. Mussie and et al have been colluding with Human Trafficking crime rings. Would you KNOWINGLY work with Human Trafficking crime rings??


      1. ነዞም ኣብ ማእከል ባሕሪ ኮይኖም ረዳኢ ዝሓቱ ህጻውንትን ኣዴታትን ብ ተሎፎን ረዲኤት ክረኹቡ ዓቁሞም ዝተሓጋጋዙ ከም ባዓል ኣባ ሙሴ ዘርኣይን ሜሮን ስቲፋኖስን ኣሳጋገርቲ እዮም ኢልካ ምስባብ ነዞም ህጻውንቲ ካብ ሃገሮም ሰጉጓካ ከይ ኣክልሲ ነዛ ትልኽ ትብል ሂዎቶም ውን ምጽባእ እዩ ኩላትና ድማ ክንኩኑኖ ይግባእ ነዚ ኣረመናውን ዘይ ሰብኣውን ጠቀነ ሙሱልያት!!!! wow that is not good brothers

        1. The Italian prosecutor is alleging that Fr. Mussie and et al have been colluding with Human Trafficking crime rings. This is a serious crime they are talking about. Again, would you KNOWINGLY work with Human Trafficking crime rings??

          1. "What goes around comes around · Edit

            Y r right KB. It reminds me what always my father used to say. One prominent Eritrean had once told him “ayaye ne Eritrea zegode kulu edu yerekeba eyu”. I repeat what Mengis said below.

        2. Robel everything is done for personal “rebeha”. Those who make these are very selfish individuals. Our policy is not appreciated. .. ” ካብ ሃገሮም ሰጉጓካ ከይ ኣክልሲ”.. The gov’t has put in place according to its capacity! It is individuals decision.


  2. What goes around comes around. It’s just a matter of time before the west turn their faces against these idiots who are failed to achieve the evil intention of enemies against Eritrea

      1. ዊዒሉ ሓዲሩስ እቲ ሓቂ ከይትገልጸ ኣይተርፍን’ዩ
        ደድሕሪኡ ድማ እቲ ሓሶት ይጋለጽ።

      2. What is more puzzling is that why the truth is coming out now? I’m sure they new the truth all along, but decided to make it public now. Why? Is there some shift in western policy regarding Eritreans?

  3. When organizations are too loud advocating for the rights of humans (especially of Africans), it is always a good thing to pay attention of their “good” deeds. Whoever expected Catholic Priests (or any religious leaders) to be the primary abusers of little children. — The abuses of thousands of children was perpetrated by Catholic Priests with the full knowledge of the Vatican. There is no doubt other religious organization are guilty of similar crimes. Let us hope the evidences of the Good prosecutor from Italy don’t end-up in corrupted officials like those in the Vatican who had the knowledge of bad priests.

    1. Wondering why is this “Priest” living in Switzerland now? Why is he not in Italy any more? What happened there? Critical questions that needs clear answers 🙂 🙂 Hope someone will dig farther on that 🙂

      1. I beg Warsai not to call this person a priest what he is a devil (sheytan). And I am just wondering does he have a church where he does his prayer activity and does anyone follow his prayer? I WONDER.

        1. I understand your point…. but he’s officially a Roman Catholic priest. Moreover, he has a lot of support within the Church, both in Rome and Asmara.

          1. If this is true, the Catholic Roman church and and especially the Eritrean Catholic church have direct or indirect connection with this Dirty (Sinful) Money.

          2. Indeed it is true.

            “After his ordination to priesthood the Catholic Church in Rome sends him to Switzerland as a minister.” Source:

            At one time was the go to person for the media with regards to controversial ‘pastoral letters’ of 2014. The Church never designated him to be the spokesperson for those top Eritrean bishops, but also the bishops never asked him to stop acting like one either. Anyhow he got much of his notoriety from this … and here is an example….

          3. Allow me NOT to believe what is written in those links. They seems they are here as smokescreen. Plus I doubt he was 16 in 1992, it doesn’t fit at all. There is something not clear in all this.

      2. He was sent to Swiss by the Eritrean Catholic Church. Technically he reports to the diocese in Asmara led by Archeparch‎ ‎Menghesteab Tesfamariam. Isn’t that interesting?

  4. Sophia Tesfamariam: When the boats land in Italy-the saviors- Meron Estefanos, Mussie Zerai, Alganesh Ghandi & cohorts can help “resettle” the “refugees”. They also have the lists of the “passengers”- potential “asylum seekers”, how does that happen unless they are in cahoots with the smugglers…

    Y-PFDJ @DaklakKib : The tragedy [Lampedusa] happened on Oct 3 and Meron Estifanos passing the list on Oct 4. How is that possible unless they are in cahoots with the smugglers?

  5. This is the beginning of the end of this schemes and running arounds.if this guys do not know about this disgusting business why else have they involved in this mess which (any sane person can understand the gravity of the job of a negotiator, between a stranded individual and this criminal underground-a job for a trained person who is backed with all the intelligence and info or know how to free a victim of a criminal undreground groups/, the material/technology and organizational capacity etc): besides the point they were trying to make, i.e twisting the flight of people from refugee camps and essentailly making it a political and unrest cauused by the Governmnet in Eritrea, they continued, mostly hapzardly in endangering peoples lives, usually by communicating with those who are beaten and tortured in cells all live on social media, run by the above (aformationed)individualls and coworkers of this scheme.No doubt they were part and parcel of criminality, as they were 1-the facilitators of that pain in return for a victim and family to pay ransom 2-used that platform to score political gains, as if to spychologically influence people confidence towards the political organization that is the GOE 3-merely a tool of a bigger sinister criminal organization, organ harvesters, and other criminal exploits 4-No doubt collaborating with Tigrians for the space/money/ they admittdley say fund destabilizing Eritrea, as a latest warfare, including psycholgical to annihilate and weaken the youth so as to yeald to their various agendas of tigray tigrignizing Eritrea.It is the bestest time yet to document the encounters, with the above individuals as witness of the crime, including communications with the victims’ families who have had to get the money to payto this criminals, and the torturers, becasue the collaborators were, as a matter of logic and law criminals, perhaps had the audecity of making a political point to many gullible youths who have set to migrate, for a better economic opportunities rather than repression of the sorts Meron, Keshi Hatyat or any one who hasn’t visited Eritrea for as long as 10 or so years would tell you otherwise,,,,,

  6. I knew they should get stuck in the future and thankfully they become now but what’s this for people really they are?will they sleep well when Young people are drowning at sea and they will benefit when people call for help in the middle of hell?now they are in hell themselves and they are going to pay the hige price,who will pay for this dark crime,froud,smuggling.Mussie and Meron and the others have sentenced themselves to Death.Lock them now!!

  7. ን17 ዓመታት ድሕሪ መጋረጃን ማስኬራን “ሰብኣዊ መሰላት” ተሓቢኡ ዝነበረ ባህርያት፣ ሽርሕታትን ገበናትን ወ/ሮ ኤልሳ ጩሩም ዘቃልዕ፣ ካብ ኣንደበታ ክትሰምዕዎን ክትመዝንዎን ብኣኽብሮት ንዕድመኩም። The following conversation with Elsa explains how she was succesfully trafficking of Eritrean migrants from Ethiopia, Sudan, Israel, etc … to Europe in the name of Freedom fighters and human rights activists. The case of a certain Isaias Teklebrhan.

    ፖለቲካዊ ትያትር ኤልሳ ጭሩምን ኢሰያስ ተኽለብርሃንን (ካልኣይ ክፋል)

      1. I love more than I can say….I am in love……..with Elsa Chrum……cia’o Elsa……Kigbero zybley ….gere…..TemaHire…

  8. What is Human Trafficking?
    Article 3, paragraph (a) of the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons defines Trafficking in Persons as the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs.

    The Act (What is done)
    Recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons

    The Means (How it is done)
    Threat or use of force, coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, abuse of power or vulnerability, or giving payments or benefits to a person in control of the victim

    The Purpose (Why it is done)
    For the purpose of exploitation, which includes exploiting the prostitution of others, sexual exploitation, forced labour, slavery or similar practices and the removal of organs.
    To ascertain whether a particular circumstance constitutes trafficking in persons, consider the definition of trafficking in the Trafficking in Persons Protocol and the constituent elements of the offense, as defined by relevant domestic legislation.

    1. @disqus_d84XYWUjMv:disqus this one is with sub-title in english, we were talking about the illegal migration and all the NGO’s manufactured fake news in italy and beyond..that today is crystal clear in italian prosecutor’s hand.

  9. Vicious, lawless, unaccountable, unelected, untransparent and illegitimate regimes blaming everybody else and character assasinating citizens didn’t start by pfdj although pfdj it takes it to a higher level. It is so repetitious and so boring. The non-ending forced labor is the 99% cause of Eritrean youth exodus, period! The regime’s attemp to run away from this truth is futile. And nobody buys it.

    1. Mes don’t be a fool when these facts are revealed personally it takes me back to think why some individuals were acting badly after 1998 and why in 1991 before referndum some chaos happened. Why did Meles said “gemelahchewene yatetubet, yaynachewe kelem alamereneme so on and so forth. History repeat itself! Everything is orchestrated knowing our innocence but our policy safeguard us.

  10. This is very amazing article ,Thank you TN for your valuable information about the inhuman wild animals .Thank God finally con into the light.

  11. What I don’t understand is, if the prosecutor took his time to investigate all this, why not prosecute? Isn’t that, what a prosecutor should do? Prosecute?

      1. Well, he should change his job- title, from prosecutor to investigator, then! To prosecute, means, to assign blame/to indict!

  12. Dear TN the article you share is real fundamental, inside of of it there is reference of Di Maio, vice president of the chamber of Deputes of the italian parliament (of the 5 stars movement party) and if you get in to it, you can read clearly how the mafia of the NGO´s are at the eyes of the investigation of the italian prosecutors, this is very nice this times to understand who and since when are behind this criminal activity. Now things are coming to light, while they were accusing innoncent government body else where. “betri haqi+s teqeten ember neyteseber”. This bunch of sell outs “eritreans” are going to pay.

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