If you open up an Austrian newspaper this morning (the Kurier)....there is this odd story there that relates the immigration episode in the Med, and these 'rescue' vessels.
For a long while, the Italians have been investigating the method of which these charity operations go and pick up raft-migrants and 'save' them. The story unfolding now is that the cops are looking at 15 individuals (the crew) upon one of these vessels....German, Portuguese, and Spanish members....who they suspect of human-trafficking. The hint? The smugglers in Libya call or radio some middle-guy (maybe a charity operation guy....maybe a mafia-guy), and give them data (coordinates) from which they 'rescue' the guy.
Why this comes up now? I think Italy has awaken in the past six months and realize that the EU isn't going to come up with some method of dispersing or distributing the rescued migrants to the EU member states. If this method doesn't get invented or forced upon folks.....then Italy is stuck with the migrants, and frankly....they really don't have the jobs or industry to make this a wise or long-term solution.
Where this goes now? There's talk of rescue vessels being denied entry into Italian ports. The charity operations have said that this won't happen, and that it's just a misunderstanding. The use of a Spanish or French port? Well....if you add up the mileage and hours required....you might be talking about Sardenia, but this would add an entire day onto the voyge, and quickly become a topic of which the French might also deny them entry. Making way to a Spanish isle? You can figure two days of sailing to reach one of these choices.
All of this opens up a big long discussion because no one ever thought that some relationship might exist between the rescue crowd and the smuggling crowd. If you don't rescue the raft-folks....there's zero chance that they can make this journey across the seas (figure 300 miles) in a rubber raft deal. Maybe in wooden vessels or retired fishing boats....it would be more possible.
Where this goes next? If charges ever come up in court....it'll change the whole dynamic.