A lot of international NGOs are playing an increasingly important role in addressing issues that are usually managed by governments, such as assisting migrants and refugees or people living in poverty, or else helping populations in conflict areas and so on.
When managing such humanitarian crises, international NGOs act alongside governments and sometimes they even replace them, above all when institutional action is not co-ordinated in an effective manner.
Carrying out such functions is a highly commendable and unique task in crisis situations like the one we are going through; it means taking on more responsibilities and committing to ensuring more transparency and better communication, both at an institutional level and vis-à-vis the general public.
Otherwise, political confrontation on this issue is likely to become harsher. Some Public Prosecutor’s Offices in Italy, for example, have launched investigations into the funding of these organisations, for fear that they might facilitate the entry of migrants who do not meet the required criteria or could create security problems.
Concerted action is therefore needed at European level in order to define the role of NGOs, as well as their recruitment criteria and financial transparency if they are funded by public funds. The Council of Europe should set guidelines regulating the activities of these entities and defining, in particular, the rules they have to comply with and their spheres of action. The Parliamentary Assembly should also make recommendations in this respect.