Zoom Image

Elon Musk: "Is the German public aware of this?"


Jacquelyn Martin / AP

On Friday afternoon, Elon Musk disseminated a post on X, formerly Twitter, from an account criticizing the role of German sea rescuers in the Mediterranean. "Eight German NGO ships are currently underway in the Mediterranean to collect illegal immigrants to be unloaded in Italy," the post reads.

"These NGOs are subsidized by the German government. Let's hope that the AfD wins the elections to stop this European suicide." Elon Musk asks: "Is the German public aware of this?"

The account apparently regularly spreads right-wing extremist content. "If we don't stop the invasion, it could happen at your child's school in Europe," reads one of the account's Telegram posts. It shows a class of veiled girls, an adult man beats a child. Again and again, the account vilifies immigrants as invaders and writes about the alleged "suicide of Europe".

"Yes, that's called saving lives"

The Foreign Office of Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens) reacted to the post in the afternoon. "Yes, that's called saving lives," the German authority wrote in English. Mission Lifeline, one of the German NGOs rescuing refugees and migrants off the Libyan and Tunisian coasts, posted an appeal for donations under Musk's tweet.

The number of people landing irregularly on Italy's shores has risen this year – despite post-fascist Giorgia Meloni's promise to the contrary during the election campaign. For months, she had been pushing ahead with a deal with Tunisia, a transit country. Now, however, she has changed her tactics and publicly complains about German sea rescue organizations.

Meloni reproaches the German government

This week, she complained in writing in Berlin that the German government was supporting the organizations and thus promoting illegal migration to Italy. The rescue ships are responsible for an increase in the number of refugees, she wrote – which, according to several studies, is not true. Observers see this as an attempt by Meloni to distract from her own actions.

More on the subject

  • Refugee crisis in Italy: Giorgia Meloni, as she really isThe SPIEGEL editorial by Frank Hornig

  • Escape routes across the Mediterranean: Why so many migrants arrive on LampedusaBy Monika Bolliger, Frank Hornig and Steffen Lüdke

According to Italian migration expert Matteo Villa, only eight percent of migrants have been brought ashore by NGOs this year; the number of refugee boats arriving alone has increased. In addition, the Italian coast guard is also rescuing a significant number of people. According to Villa, more migrants leave Libyan coasts when there are no sea rescuers on site.

The Mediterranean Sea is one of the deadliest escape routes in the world. This year, more than 2000,<> people have died on the route in the central Mediterranean, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

The Federal Government certainly allocates funds to sea rescue organisations. Among other things, there is a Bundestag resolution on this. However, Berlin had so far repeatedly tried to take into account the sensitivities in Italy.