News (EN)

The MARE JONIO is welcomed by MEDITERRANEA activists as it arrives in Venice for maintenance work


Our ship MARE JONIO has arrived in Venice. She will have to stop here for a few weeks for mandatory maintenance work to its hull and engine, as prescribed by the Italian Naval Registry (RINA).
Upon its arrival, she was welcomed by the activists of Mediterranea Venezia, Mediterranean Padova and Mediterranean Vicenza, who wanted to thank this 1972 tugboat and its crew for what they have done over the last two years.

The MARE JONIO left the port of Augusta for her first mission on October 3, 2018. Since then she has directly saved 374 people. Women, men and children, who would otherwise have been swallowed up by the sea or lost into the hell of Libya’s camps.

Through its observation and monitoring activities, the MARE JONIO has contributed to the rescue of hundreds of other shipwrecked people in the Central Mediterranean. She has also played a decisive role in the reopening of Italian ports as a safe place of disembarkation for people fleeing war and violence. All this happened despite the fact that she was seized by the authorities 3 times: two on the grounds of a judicial seizure and one for an administrative seizures. These seizures blocked the MARE JONIO in port for more than ten months. On top of this, the MARE JONIO received four warnings, as many criminal investigations and several “bureaucratic” procedures aimed at hindering her activity.

We would have liked to made the MARE JONIO available to those who wanted to visit it and meet us on board. Unfortunately, the current Covid-19 health emergency and the strict prevention protocols, to which we have always adhered, prevent us from organizing public events on board. Like everyone, we hope to get out of this difficult situation soon. As we have always maintained, this will only be possible thanks to solidarity and cooperation, because “no one is saved alone.”

In the meantime, we want to thank Vento Di Venezia which is kindly hosting the Mare Jonio at its dock on the island of Certosa.

News (EN)

Campaign Launches to Support People Crossing the Channel

A project committed to the monitoring and documentation to ensure the human rights of people crossing the English channel has launched today


Channel Rescue is a grassroots human rights monitoring group set up in response to an increased number in channel crossings. They will fact find, document landings, act as legal observers, and support recently arrived people.  Their aim is to ensure that people crossing the channel are offered the aid that is currently protected to them by international law, and to ensure no violations of human rights are committed.

“We have set up channel rescue because we are concerned about the hostile narrative being created by both the government and in some media that have sought to demonize those migrating across the English Channel. In recent weeks we have seen shocking scenes of members of far-right organizations attacking people on beaches and last week the border force trailed push backs. There is a burgeoning humanitarian crisis emerging that risks turning the channel into a graveyard. Women, men and children fleeing war and persecution and in search of safety are risking their lives to arrive on these shores.”  said Max Williams of Channel Rescue.

Crossings of the channel by people seeking asylum have increased in the last few months with people increasingly making the perilous journey by boat. Many of the people arriving in the UK are fleeing conflict and persecution in their own countries and are coming to the UK to seek safety. The Channel Rescue project will organise volunteer shore patrols along beaches of Kent.

“ At the moment we will be starting with regular shore patrols to spot arriving boats, acting as eyes on the sea. If during our patrols, we encounter people in distress we will contact the appropriate authorities such as the coastguard and RNLI.  We recognize and honor the legal and moral requirement to save life at sea as upheld in the 1982 UN convention.”

Despite being the 6th richest country in the world the UK grants a  comparatively low number of  asylum, humanitarian protection or alternative forms of leave and resettlement. In the year to March 2020, just 20,339 people were offered protection by the UK compared too

165,615 asylum applications in Germany, 151,070 in France, 117,800 in Spain and 77,275 in Greece in the same period, according to Eurostat.

 Press Release Channel Rescue

News (EN)

Cardinal Hollerich interview

Cardinal Hollerich: Europe is called to build a future for the whole world


Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich comments on Pope Francis’ letter to Europe, describing the importance of looking to the future, together, so that significant changes can be made for the entire world.


Europe needs new policies to better cater to the needs of our brothers and sisters on the move and it needs to rediscover its Christian identity as it strives to build a peaceful and just future. These are concepts expressed by Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, as he spoke with gratitude of Pope Francis’ letter marking a series of important anniversaries that define the European continent as we know it.

Cardinal Hollerich, President of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the EU (COMECE) was commenting on the Pope’s letter to Vatican’s Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, on Tuesday. In it, the Pope retraces the history and values of Europe and talks of his dream for fraternity and solidarity among nations amid a period marked by individualistic tendencies.

In an interview with Vatican Radio, Cardinal Hollerich expresses how “thrilled” he is that Pope Francis, “a Pope [from] outside of the European continent, has such a wonderful undertsnding of Europe and can give us such an encouragement.”

There are “so many” policies that need to be considered, says the Cardinal highlighting that one issue the Holy Father mentions in his letter as he looks to the “Europe of the future” is the welcoming of migrants “and the people who have to leave their countries” for various reasons.

Cardinal Hollerich recalls numerous reports COMECE has received over the last few days, specifically mentioning news regarding the actions of Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, “at the Greek border, pushing people back into the Mediterranean sea, next to the Libyan border”.

“Surely their policies must change”, he says

Cardinal Hollerich continues by stating that “it is more than a change of policy” that is needed. What needs to change, he says, is how we view the European Union: it is important to “gain a spirit of the founders and have a full view of Europe”.

“We should never forget that Schuman chose to start with the economic part of European integration”, says Hollerich. Though this economic aspect has “developed very much”, he says, there lies the “great danger of the European Union” being reduced from a vision of “European integration to mere economics”, and that could lead to a “reduction of men and women to simple agents of the economy or consumers”.

Cardinal Hollerich expresses joy at hearing Pope Francis say that Europe needs to rediscover its identity. He explains that, to him, this means that “We have a history, and not everything is bad”. Noting that there are “many” bad points, such as the two great wars of the last century, Hollerich states that “we are not the slaves of history”. There is so much that Europe can give to the world, and we must do this with “a new humility,” something that must be done “together, with our sisters and brothers of other continents.”

Finally, Archbishop Hollerich says “I think it’s beautiful that the Pope highlights a certain  European identity which stems from culture and religion – also the cultural part of religion – but which does not linger to the past like a slave.”

“We can build a future.”, he concludes: “We are called to build a future. Not only for us, but for the whole world.”


28 October 2020

By Vatican News
News (EN)




Arabic – عربى

After more than two weeks of further blockade of our ship, Mare Jonio,  ready since the 12th of October to resume navigation in the Central Mediterranean to carry out observatory, monitoring and (if necessary) rescue missions at sea – on Monday, October 26, Augusta’s Port Authorities have denied boarding to activists of MEDITERRANEA Saving Humans’ Rescue and Medical Team, who would embark in the capacity of shipowner technicians. 


After the episodes in Licata’s and Pozzallo’s ports, this is the third time that this type of intervention by the local port authorities has taken place. These decisions, which are based on directives that arrive directly from Rome, are based on deceptive, unjustified and arbitrary motivations. 


Since last September 14th, these blockades have de facto prevented MEDITERRANEA’S ship from operating at sea while at the same time there have been almost 300 deaths from various shipwrecks along Libya’s coast. We have no choice but to ascertain that the will of the Italian government,  in perfect accord with the other European executive offices, is to impede every type of monitoring and rescue activity of the Civil Fleet active in the Mediterranean. 


Presently, counting the Mare Jonio, there are now six ships of the Civil Fleet that are forced to remain docked through the use of various technical blockade directives or  orders of administrative detention.


We have directed our legal team to challenge these illegitimate measures in the proper venues. However, legal challenges and appeals are expensive and take months before obtaining justice.


In the meantime, the Mare Jonio left the port of Augusta yesterday evening and is now sailing not where its presence is needed. Rather, the ship is directed to a shipyard for a series of important routine maintenance work to the hull and to the engine as provided by the Italian Naval Register (RINA).


In the meantime, MEDITERRANEA’S operating structures will continue to monitor the situation at sea.  Together with the other European civil organizations, we will revive our efforts until all the ships are freed and can return to save human lives in the Mediterranean as we have in the last few days in cases of boats in distress and shipwrecks.


As we have demonstrated in the last two years, one thing is sure: they can hinder us, make us waste precious time- not our precious time, but the precious time of those who escape the Libyan hell and risk their lives at sea. But, they won’t stop us. With the support of each one of you, we will not be stopped. 





Après plus de deux autres semaines de blocage du navire Mare Jonio – qui est prêt du 12 octobre dernier à reprendre la navigation dans la Méditerranée centrale pour des missions d’observation, surveillance et (si nécessaire) secours en mer – le lundi 16 octobre les Autorités Maritimes d’Augusta ont nié l’embarquement aux activistes du Rescue et Medical Team de MEDITERRANEA Saving Humans, qui se trouvaient à bord en tant que amateur.e.s. 


Il s’agit de la troisième action de ce genre, suite à celle des Capitaineries de Licata et Pozzallo. Les motivations sont basées sur des indications politiques provenant directement de Rome et sont fallacieuses, infondées et arbitraires, 

Ces refus-ci ont de facto bloqué la possibilité pour le navire de MEDITERRANEA d’opérer en mer dès le 14 septembre dernier; entre temps, on a compté presque trois cent morts dans des différents naufrages au large des côtes libyennes . Nous ne pouvons que constater l’intention du Gouvernement italien –  en parfait accord avec les autres exécutifs européens –  d’entraver par tous les moyens les activités de surveillance et de secours menées par les navires de la société civile actifs dans la Méditerranée. 


Avec le Mare Jonio, ce sont six les navires de la Civil Fleet qui sont en arrêt dans un port en ce moment, à cause de différents dispositifs d’immobilisation technique ou administrative. 


Nous avons mandaté notre Équipe Légale pour contester ces mesures illégitimes dans les sièges opportunes, mais les oppositions et les recours comportent des procédures coûteuses et qui dureront des mois avant d’obtenir justice.  


Entre temps, hier, le Mare Jonio a quitté le port d’Augusta et se dirige maintenant non pas là où sa présence est nécessaire, mais en chantier afin d’être soumis à plusieurs travaux de manutention périodiques et importants prévus par le Registre Naval Italien (RINA) – notamment à la coque et à l’appareil locomoteur.


Pendant ce temps, les structures opérationnelles de MEDITERRANEA continueront à surveiller la situation en mer –  tout comme nous avons fait face à des cas de bateaux en difficulté et de naufrages ces derniers jours – et à relancer –  avec les autres organisations civiles européennes –  la mobilisation afin que tous les navires soient libérés et puissent retourner à sauver des vies humaines dans la Méditerranée.


Une chose est certaine – comme nous l’avons montré au cours de ces deux dernières années : ils peuvent nous entraver, nous faire perdre du temps précieux, pas que pour nous mais surtout pour ceux et celles qui fuient l’enfer libyen et risquent leur vie en mer. Cependant,  ils ne nous arrêteront pas et, avec le soutien de tout le monde, nous n’arrêterons pas.






Después de más de dos semanas de bloqueo del Mare Jonio, que ya estaba listo desde el pasado 12 de octubre para volver a navegar en el Mediterráneo Central con misiones de observación, supervisión y rescate marítimo si necesario, el lunes 26 de octubre las Autoridades Marítimas de Augusta han comunicado su negativa para la subida a bordo de las activistas y los activistas del Rescue and Medical Team de MEDITERRANEA Saving Humans en calidad de técnicos armadores. 


Es la tercera vez que hay una actuación de este tipo, después de la de la Capitaneria de Licata y de Pozzallo con pretextos sin fundamento y arbitrarios, basándose en las directivas políticas que llegan directas desde Roma. 


De hecho, desde el 14 de septiembre, este tipo de negativas han bloqueado las operaciones en el mar del barco de MEDITERRANEA, mientras a lo largo de las costas de Libia se han contado alrededor de trescientos muertos en diferentes naufragios. No podemos hacer más que la voluntad del Gobierno italiano, en la misma línea que los otros ejecutivos europeos, de obstaculizar de cualquier forma la actividad de supervisión y rescate de los barcos de la sociedad civil activos en el Mediterráneo. 


Actualmente hay seis barcos de la Flota Civil obligados a estar en puerto, debido a diferentes razones de bloqueos técnicos o detención administrativa.


Nuestro departamento legal está preparándose para impugnar estas medidas ilegítimas en los foros apropiados, pero las oposiciones y apelaciones implican procedimientos costosos que llevarán meses para obtener justicia.


Mientras tanto, el Mare Jonio dejó el puerto de Augusta anoche y no para ir hacia donde debe estar, sino al astillero para hacer frente a una serie de obras de mantenimiento del casco y de los motores, exigidos por el Registro Naval Italiano (RINA).


Mientras tanto, las estructuras operacionales del MEDITERRANEA seguirán vigilando la situación en el mar, como hemos hecho ante los casos de buques en peligro y naufragios en los últimos días, y relanzarán, junto con las demás organizaciones civiles europeas, la movilización para que todos los buques sean liberados y puedan volver a salvar vidas en el Mediterráneo.


Como hemos demostrado en los dos últimos años, lo cierto es que pueden interponerse en nuestro camino, hacernos perder el tiempo que es oro para los que huyen del infierno libio y arriesgan sus vidas en el mar, pero no podrán detenernos y, con el apoyo de todos y cada uno, no nos detendremos.



بلاغ و تويتس من MEDITERRANEA
النص الأصلي
عنوان: تحصر الحكومة الإيطالية نشاط السفينة MARE JONIO
“لا يمكنهم قف نشاطنا في البحر”
بعد أكثر من أسبوعين من قف السفينة MARE JONIO-مستعدة من 12 أكتوبر لتعاود الإبحار في البحر الأبيض المتوسط لواجب الملاحظة و المراقبة و الإسعاف في البحر- في يوم الإثنين 26 أكتوبر بلّغت السلطة البحرية في أوجوستا(صقلية) منْع ركوب الناشطين و الناشطات من جماعة الإسعاف و جماعة الطبية الذين يعملون على السفينة كفنيين.
و هذه هي المرة الثالثة، بعد تدجل الخفارة السواحل في ليكاتا و في بوتسالو، بعلل لا أساس لهم، بإشارة سياسية من روما.
وفق هذا المنع (من 14سبتمبر) إمكان لسفينة MARE JONIO لتعمل في البحر، و في نفس الوقت، أمام السواحل الليبية نعدّ 300 موتى تقريبا بسبب بعض الحطام. نأكد إرادة الحكومة الإيطالية(مع الحكومات الأوربية الأخرى) لتمنع نشاط الإسعاف و الملاحظة لسفن المجتمع المدني في البحر الأبيض المتوسط ط.
مع السفينة MARE JONIO
نعدّ ست سفن من الأسطول المدني الأوربية مجبرة لتبق في الميناء لأسباب مختلفة، تقنية و قانونية. قلنا لمجموعتنا القنونية أن تناقش هذا الإجراء في الأماكن المناسبة، و لكن هذه الطريقة غالية و مرتفعة الثمن التي تستمر لكثير من الأشهر قبل تحصيل على العدالة.
في نفس الوقت رحلت MARE JONIO إلى الحوض لصيانة في بدن السفينة و في المحرّك، بحسب السجلّ البحري الإيطالي (RINA).
سنستمر كميديتيرانيا لنشاهد إلى الحالة في البحر الأبيض المتوسط، كدائما، مع الONGS الأوربية الأخرى، لتحرير كل السفن و لنأنقذ الحيوات الإنسانية في البحر.
شئ واحد مؤكد، كما عرضنا في السنتين الأخيرتين: يمكنهم أن يعيقونا ويجعلونا نضيع وقتنا ووقتاً الهاربين من ليبيا اللذين يجازفون بحياتهم في البحر. لكنهم لن يتمكنوا أن نتوقف ونحن لن نتوقف بفضل دعم

News (EN)

Rescue is forbidden: the Italian Government blocks Mare Jonio too.

Last night in the port of Pozzallo, where the ship was ready to set sail for her mission in the Central Mediterranean, Maritime Authorities REFUSED two members of Mediterranea Saving Humans’ Rescue Team (a rescue paramedic and a search and rescue expert) PERMISSION to embark the Mare Jonio.
This is but the latest in a series of measures enacted by various authorities since last May, when Mare Jonio resumed its activity at sea after the forced suspension due to the “lockdown”. Since the departure on June 9th from the port of Trapani, Mediterranea’s ship has received four official “Warnings” against the Captain and the Shipowner for “pre-ordering the activities of execution of rescue operations in a stable and organized way of the aforementioned tugboat. ” The threat of legal consequences, contained in the Warnings, was followed by the opening of two judicial proceedings by the Public Prosecutor’s Office of Ragusa against our Captains and our Shipowner who are accused of “failing to comply with the prescriptions ordered by the Authorities” because of the rescue of 67 people on June 19th and the disembarkation of the 27 people rescued on board the merchant ship Maersk Etienne on September 12th.
This is blatantly a targeted administrative and judicial persecution, rooted in the clear political will of the Government to send out a clear and terrible message, with an equally deadly objective. As with the “administrative detention” issued to the other ships and to the airplanes of the European Civil Society, the Government’s message is that “RESCUE IS PROHIBITED” when it comes to human lives in peril of death at sea.  The Government’s goal is to obstruct and hinder the actual presence at sea of all the civil organizations which carry out observation, monitoring and rescue missions. They want to eliminate any inconvenient witnesses of the daily human rights violations that are a result of the European government policies and financing.
As of today, implementation of these policies is keeping Mare Jonio’s mission activities in the Mediterranean on hold. In other words, the most lethal sea border in the world has been deprived of a ship which, in almost two years, rescued hundreds of people – women, men and children. By bringing them to European safe ports, Mare Jonio spared them the fate of drowning at sea or being deported to Libya.
We do not intend to surrender to the inhumanity and the cynicism of these political choices. Our Lawyers are already working on appeals against the arbitrary and illegitimate regulations that have affected the Mare Jonio. With the support of thousands of citizens who are with us, we will do all that is possible to return to sea as soon as possible, together with other ships and airplanes of the European Civil Fleet.
News (EN)

The 27 hostages in the Maersk Etienne case are finally released in Europe. Mediterranea’s mission continues.

The image of the bus departing from Pozzallo pier towards the Syracuse reception centre marks the end of the ordeal inflicted by the Maltese authorities and European governments on 27 shipwrecked people saved on 5 August by the merchant ship Maersk Etienne and abandoned in the middle of the sea for 40 days.  

People, human beings, already victims of torture in the Libyan detention camps, fleeing from that hell where a civil war is also raging, a war by proxy where the great powers fight over the division of oil wells as if the country was a Risk! board, but where the corpses are real. 

The Mare Jonio is moored at the quayside. The crew greets the new brothers and sisters they met in the middle of the sea, where everything is shared, even the horror of an illegal and inhuman frontier among the most dangerous in the world. We went to pick them up after the captain of the commercial ship that had rescued them had spent 28 days desperately asking for help without ever receiving a reply. The technique of rescue omissions, scientifically applied by two European countries such as Malta and Greece, is part of the strategy of “push-backs by proxy”, which centres around the role played by the so-called “Libyan Coast Guard”.

The current Italian government, continuing on the same line as the previous ones, is financing through a bilateral treaty signed in 2017 with the puppet government of Tripoli, and paying hundreds of millions of euros to train and equip a real “border police”, set up in a hurry by recycling known criminals and human traffickers well known to the public.

How many crimes have been committed against thousands of women, men and children and endorsed due to State Reasons? Today we can only look at the facts that happen in front of our eyes, and in front of which, on October 3, 2018, we decided to put ourselves on a ship and go where these things happen.

The Maersk Etienne is a merchant ship of a big Danish company. She sails back and forth across the sea that has been turned into a giant mass grave, as hundreds of other ships and boats of all kinds do every day. It is the first great paradox of frontiers: anything can go through it, all kinds of goods, but for a certain category of human beings, the sentence inflicted is death. These are frontiers that these brothers and sisters seem to have drawn on their skin from birth. Whether it is a police check-point in a district of Minneapolis, or an island in Greece turned into a prison, or the waters of the Central Mediterranean. These perpetually open borders become a wall in front of a family, a child, a pregnant woman or a 20-year-old boy. The colour of their skin often brings these migrants together, they come from the South of the world and go north. They also have something else in common: they are all poor.

The Mare Jonio of Mediterranea Saving Humans left the port of Licata on Thursday afternoon at 2.40 pm for its ninth mission in the Libyan SAR area, in international waters in the central Mediterranean Sea. Monitoring missions during which we have never failed to rescue shipwrecked people, to respond to requests for help, to reports of boats and people in danger. As dictated by international conventions and maritime law although these norms seem to be only respected on paper, judging by the behaviour of national and European authorities.

“To help is an obligation”, claim charters undersigned by various governments. Rules written in the Italian Constitution.

Unfortunately we know that this is not the case. The opposite is the case.

On the evening of Thursday 10th September, after sailing south for 40 miles, an e-mail arrived on the bridge of the Mare Jonio, sent directly by the captain of the ship Maersk Etienne, which had been off Malta for 37 days. He asked the Mare Jonio for help: the situation on board had worsened, in particular that of a pregnant woman who needed medical attention. The Etienne has been in this condition since she rescued a sinking boat on 5th August.  Aboard 27 exhausted people, plucked from the sea just before sinking. The Etienne, as her captain says, could not leave them to die. But the “punishment” for those who help and save lives is very hard: abandonment. Malta, responsible for that stretch of sea, refused to grant a Place of Safety (POS). Italy, the nearest coastal state, leaves the responsibility to Malta. The ship is registered in Denmark, and the Danish government tried to organise the deportation of the shipwrecked people to Tunisia (an unsafe country). The European institutions, despite the appeal to Brussels by dozens of parliamentarians, do not intervene. The ordeal of the Etienne becomes one of Europe’s most shameful episodes, along with the financing of the concentration camps in Libya and the burning Moria camp in Greece, with its 13,000 innocent prisoners inside.

The Mare Jonio does what needs to be done: once it heard the call for help, it changed its course and headed for the position. In the early hours of the morning on Friday 11th September, the ABBA1 rescue boat leaves the Mare Jonio to reach the Etienne, bringing our medical staff to the merchant ship. In 37 days no one had even deigned to send a doctor.

The report from the medical team leaves no doubt: the psycho-physical conditions of the 27 shipwrecked people is very dramatic and the medical condition of the pregnant woman aboard is very serious. The situation cannot be sustained a minute longer. The commander of the Etienne formally requests the Mare Jonio command to authorise the transfer on our ship, which has a medical team and an infirmary equipped to provide first aid. Instructions are requested from Malta, but no response is received. The transfer takes place while the sea is rising: getting off an oil tanker with the bulkheads tens of metres high through a rope ladder is not an easy or safe operation, and it must be done quickly.

The transfer operation was completed at around 5 p.m., while the Maltese and Italian authorities have been kept constantly updated on the situation. Malta replies only to say that it has no intention of dealing with the case and that it will not grant any port to the shipwrecked people. “Turn to Italy” is their contemptuous reply.

The MRCC of Rome initially wrote to Mare Jonio advising that Malta was responsible, but after 24 hours waiting on the government’s instructions, it finally assigned Pozzallo as the port of disembarkation. The pregnant woman aboard and her husband had been evacuated from the Mare Jonio on Friday evening for hospitalisation. The others are welcomed on the pier of Pozzallo on Saturday 12th September at 9.00 p.m..

This brings to an end the 40-day odyssey. The Mare Jonio did what needed to be done, the right thing to do. Above all, the dignity of 27 people was restored. 27 people who had been rejected, treated like unwanted goods, abandoned first in Libya and then at sea.

But there are other meanings behind the facts.

What is the meaning of this behaviour of national and European authorities towards the Maersk Etienne? The message, given through what we consider a shameful behaviour and a blatant violation of the law, was clear: if commercial ships and fishing boats try to help, they will be blocked in the middle of the sea, abandoned there to lose a lot of time and money and go through a lot of trouble. Don’t try to help, you have to let them die. This is the attempt to make the omission of help into routine, to turn it into practice and then into norm. As if we could put it on the same level as the right to asylum, as the Geneva Convention and its Article 33 which prohibits refoulement. Maersk Etienne was a weapon in the hands of those who, from the top of their national and European sovereignty, want to change laws, conventions, treaties through a consolidated criminal practice. Their plan is to impose laws against life, against humanity, against the poor. They think that then everyone will be forced to obey these laws and will have to return to the ranks. But obedience is no longer a virtue, said Don Milani.

A different Europe travels on the ships of the Civil Fleet. A different world travels on that bus.

Good luck, brothers and sisters


News (EN)

Recovery Humans. Maersk Etienne, Mediterranea and Europe

By Sandro Mezzadra, on il manifesto 13/09/2020

The media and the political system tend to treat what happens in the Mediterranean, and more generally the migration issue, as a specific and distinct topic. It is usually classified as an emergency (whether it be a security issue or as a humanitarian one, it doesn’t really change with respect to the logic of the argument). Nobody thinks, for example, to connect this matter to the “recovery fund”- a topic that is discussed in a completely different language and tone. In my opinion, however, this attitude is profoundly misleading. If the “recovery fund” marks a breakthrough in the process of European integration (the ramifications of which are still being explored, of course), essential games are being played in the Mediterranean for the definition of the borders of a Europe that is intended to be upgraded – and therefore both for the quality of its citizenship and for its relations with the outside world, first of all with the countries on the southern shore, with the great Middle East and with Sub-Saharan Africa as a whole.

The shame of the Moria camp and of the detention camps in Libya are the most visible peaks of a maritime border control regime that is to all intents and purposes a European one (let it be clear, this does not absolve them of their responsibilities: individual, national governments, starting with the Italian one). What happened to the tanker Etienne, owned by the Danish giant Maersk, is another emblematic piece of the intertwining of national and European responsibilities in a sea that has long since been traveled as the world’s deadliest border. Indifference, cynicism, disregard for the basic duty to save lives at sea, bodies left decomposing for weeks, without any assistance: is this the Europe that intends to re-qualify itself by means of the “recovery fund” after the shock of the pandemic? It would seem so- all the more if we bear in mind that those who are acting in the Mediterranean today are not the “sovereignists”, but governments like the Italian one and Ursula von der Leyen’s Commission.

From this point of view, the operation carried out on Friday by Mare Jonio, the ship of the platform Mediterranea, acquires a particularly important meaning. The Mediterranea volunteers simply did what the Maltese and European authorities should have done: they got on board, provided initial medical assistance to the twenty-seven refugees and migrants rescued by the Danish ship and immediately noticed an unsustainable situation. Hence the decision to transfer the twenty-seven to the Mare Jonio. But, it cannot be ignored, more generally, that Mediterranea’s intervention has modeled a different way of managing the maritime border in the Mediterranean, opening a “humanitarian corridor” from below and powerfully alluding to the construction of another Europe through activism at sea and on the borders.

This kind of activism has been consolidating in the last months and at the same time it has been at least partially transformed. The construction of a real “civil fleet”, with Alarm Phone as its rescue coordination centre (towards the construction of a real “civil MRCC”), has led to a deepening of the immediately European dimension of operations at sea, while in Germany in particular – as Sebastiano Canetta wrote here on Friday – a movement that accompanies those operations on land has been growing, with the involvement of deeply heterogeneous actors (from Churches to Municipalities such as Berlin and some Länder). What is at stake today is more and more clearly, for activism at sea, the struggle for a Europe other than the shame of Moria, Libya and Etienne, beginning with a new way of narrating migrations and linking them to the social mobilizations that are taking place in the context of the pandemic. Also because of the great impression created by the Black Lives Matter’s initiatives in the USA, which are also changing the grammar of antiracism in Europe, the traditional languages of humanitarianism are being displaced or in any case largely changed. The recognition of the centrality of refugees and migrants and of their struggles, even in very harsh conditions such as the crossing of the maritime border in the Mediterranean Sea, is in particular increasingly a feature of activism at sea.

The high level of cooperation between different actors within the ” civil fleet ” is an extraordinary example of action on the immediate European scene that other movements could resume and develop. The resonance between activism in the Mediterranean and the mobilizations in the United States is another aspect that would certainly be worth exploring. More generally, activism at sea today offers us, in partially new terms, the relevance of a radical border and migration policy without which it is very difficult to resume reflection and initiative on the European issue. Mediterranea, with the operation on Friday, gave a good example of this radical policy, starting from the elementary need to help twenty-seven refugees and migrants abandoned by Europe.

News (EN)

Mare Jonio is sailing from Augusta for a mission to rescue the civilian patrol boat Louise Michel

We are leaving Augusta for a mission to rescue the civilian patrol boat Louise Michel, which declared a state of emergency at 3:24 am tonight.  

We decided to intervene, anticipating the scheduled start of our Mission 09 by 48 h, because at the moment neither the Maltese nor the Italian authorities are providing the necessary assistance to over 150 people in imminent life danger.

It will be a long journey and we hope that the military units of the Italian Coast Guard or the Maltese ones decide to intervene first.  

The Louise Michel already has 165 castaways aboard;  more than ten people still at sea would in fact be easily reachable with fast boats: in less than 2 h from Lampedusa and in less than 3 h from Valletta.

Since last night Louise Michel has been assisting a rubber dinghy with 130 people aboard.

The situation is dramatic, 1 person on board died and the crew can’t guarantee assistance to everyone.  There are many women and children, a lot of people have serious medical problems due to gasoline burns and many hours at sea.

Rescuing these people is a matter of life and death.  

And once again the European civil society, starting with the Mediterranean and the Ionian Sea, will do its part.

We sailed two days ahead of schedule, in order to respond to the S.O.S. call from Louise Michel, the new fast patrol vessel of the European civilian fleet. The Louise Michel first rescued 89 people, then 198 more, and was suffering the consequences of the delays and of the omissions of the competent authorities for the safety of life at sea. 

After our sailing announcement, and after the arrival of the Sea-Watch 4 – which was already carrying over 200 people on board, and who had been waiting for days for a safe port to disembark in, the ball got rolling: an Italian Coast Guard patrol boat set sail in the afternoon from Lampedusa, and trans-shipped 49 people, among them children, women and other vulnerable people.

This intervention is still insufficient: the Maltese authorities keep on failing to fulfill their duties, while more than 350 people, currently on board the Louise Michel and the Sea-Watch-4, need to be disembarked as soon as possible, in complete safety, in a European port.

A heavy storm is approaching, there will be severe sea conditions in the upcoming days. We ask the governments of Malta and Italy to carry out their duty: rescue these people, and let them disembark.

The Mare Jonio will certainly play its role, on the side of humanity. That’s why we are back at sea.

News (EN)

25 – 27 July 2020: criminal omissions and foiled deportations

Tuesday, July 28, 2020


Report on solidarity practices and breaking the liquid border regime in the Mediterranean.  


The practices of cooperation and active solidarity that a multiplicity of actors, including Mediterranea Saving Humans, has been able to put in place during the weekend between the evening of Saturday 25th and the morning of Monday 27th July, describe a situation of permanent and repeated violation of people’s fundamental human rights in the Central Mediterranean, but at the same time they also indicate how it is possible to fight them with some effectiveness.


The crucial information is: in two different cases, 95 and 45 people respectively, women, children, men, whose fates could have been forever scarred by dying either by starvation or by drowning, or by being forced to return to the Libyan hell, were instead saved and were able to land and disembark in a “safe port”. The second group was  actually rescued on Sunday evening by a patrol boat of the Guardia di Finanza less than 6 miles from the Italian SAR zone south of Lampedusa. 


How did it happen?

It all began last Saturday at 11:55 p.m., when Alarm Phone, a hotline that is active 24/7 thanks to an extraordinary network of African and European activists on both shores of our sea, announces publicly that it notified both Maltese and Italian maritime authorities that a wooden boat carrying 95 people, whom we’ll later learn were all Eritrean, was located at coordinates 34°24’N 012°04’E in the Maltese search and rescue area (SAR area), but it was also very close to the boundaries of the Tunisian and Libyan SAR zones. 

At 2:45 a.m. on Sunday, the people on board contact Alarm Phone (AP) again. The boat is overcrowded. They are not able to empty the boat of incoming water. “Help. We are dying,” they scream into the satellite phone. The ship Maridive 230 is approximately 20 nautical miles from the boat’s location and could be given the order to rescue them, but the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre in La Valletta (MRCC Malta) does not respond to AP’s calls. At 3:45 a.m., the people stranded on the boat inform AP that they have received a call from a Maltese phone number. The voice on the call told them, “We are coming to get you.” At 8:36 a.m., the people on the boat continue to indicate their position, but no one intervenes. There is a ship within sight, but it does not come near them. Water continues to enter the boat, they say desperately, adding that two people have dived into the water, and one of them has disappeared amongst the waves. 


 In the meantime, however, many people on land are sounding the alarm: the communities of the Eritrean diaspora in both Africa and Europe; Giulia Tranchina, a lawyer who is personally in contact with them; Sara Creta, a journalist threatened by Libyan gangs and on equal footing as Nello Scavo from L’Avvenire for her commitment in denouncing the horrors of the detention camps in Libya. Furthermore, it seems that most of the people shipwrecked come from the infamous Tajoura detention center.

From the very beginning, the members of the “Civil Fleet”, Mediterranea Saving Humans and Sea-Watch’s Airborne Team’s planes, Moonbird and Seabird, monitoring this area of the sea, start collaborating with AP, in what could be seen as a budding “Civil MRCC”.  

Contacts within the Catholic Church, civil society and independent media in Malta are mobilized. The authorities in La Valletta cannot be allowed to grievously violate international law once again. Their intentions are immediately clear: just as they did many times in previous months, they are waiting for the “so called” Libyan Coast Guard’s motorboats to intercept their “targets”. They want another “push-back;” they want the deportation of these peaceful refugees who are protected under international law. They want to bring them back to Libya, the place from which they are escaping. This cannot and must not end this way.


The pressure on the government of Malta grows exponentially. The United Nations Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is mobilized, via their offices in Italy and Malta first, and then their HQ in Geneva as well. Communication plays a decisive role. The recording of the satellite phone call received by AP containing the desperate request for help received from the wooden boat is broadcast around the world. No one can ever claim they did not know of the crime that was about to take place in front of everyone’s eyes. 


By 6:15 p.m., the shipwrecked people have been without drinking water for hours and are at the limits of exhaustion. They report that another commercial ship was nearby, but it left without offering assistance. We study the maps in order to understand what vessel was in the area: less than ten nautical miles away there is an oil tanker flying the Maltese flag sailing toward an Italian port. We contact the oil company. They demonstrate great sensitivity to the situation and speak to the ship owner: there is an obligation to rescue people at sea, and  those who fail to do so commit a crime punishable by law.

Before midnight, the ship has changed its course and approaches the boat carrying 95 people, giving out life jackets, drinking water and food. The ship stays next to the boat while it awaits instructions from RCC Malta. “Monitor the situation,” says the Maltese Armed Forces. “We are on our way”. Actually, it will be another six hours before anything happens. What they were actually trying to do until the very last moment was deliver the refugees into the hands of their Libyan torturers. Ultimately, a little after 6 a.m. on Monday, a Maltese patrol boat arrived on the scene and rescued the occupants of the wooden boat. 


By the afternoon, they disembarked at La Valetta. They are finally in a “safe port” in Europe. They will have the possibility to build a different future for themselves- far from the persecutions they endured in their homeland, far from the dangers of their long voyage and far from the horrors they suffered in Libya.


Why was there so much unnecessary suffering caused by leaving them at sea for forty-eight hours? Why did European governments and authorities fail to provide assistance so many times? Why is there a “double system” with rapid intercept and capture operated by the Libyan patrol boats on one side and silence and neglect in the Maltese SAR area on the other? 

Why is there such determination in defending an invisible, yet deadly, fluid border?

Why use European funds and collaboration to try and transform the Libyan militia into a contracted border police force? Why are the SAR areas in international waters treated as if they are within sovereign state territory? How is this possible when these areas fall under the current SAR Convention of Hamburg 1979 that clearly states there is a shared responsibility between the authorities from adjoining states, such as Italy?


As seen with the two cases above, these questions were answered by a broad civil society alliance capable of breaking through the regime’s grip over the deadly border

We did it. We were successful. We will continue to do it. 

This is the reason we are trying to return to our mission at sea with the ship Mare Jonio as quickly as possible. 


Because without a European “civil fleet” at sea,  governments’ criminal decisions would go unchecked and the courage of migrant women and men would be  tragically left  alone.

News (EN)

Rescued but not safe! Europe plays games with 52 lives!

Call out to stand in solidarity with the rescued and the crew of TALIA and demand a port of safety, either in Malta or Italy!

Yesterday morning, 52 people in distress at sea reached out to Alarm Phone. They were in the Maltese Search and Rescue (SAR) zone. RCC Malta was informed immediately by Alarm Phone but remained uncooperative, hanging up the phone repeatedly without noting down crucial information about the boat in distress. In the end, it was the merchant vessel TALIA (IMO: 7910888, MMSI: 450569000, under the flag of Lebanon) that conducted the rescue in the Maltese SAR zone (at position 34°42N 013°09E) in the late evening of 3 July, after Sea-Watch’s Seabird had alerted them to the case.

RCC Malta had promised to TALIA to trans-ship the rescued onto Armed Forces of Malta vessels and to disembark them in Malta. This, however, did not happen. TALIA was asked instead to move toward Lampedusa but Italy also denied the merchant vessel to enter Italian territorial waters!

Italy then instructed TALIA to move towards Malta, which it did, but RCC Malta denied the merchant vessel to enter Maltese territorial waters. Therefore people and crew are still urgently looking for a place of safety to disembark.

This lack of cooperation between States is in complete violation with the essence of instruments such as the SAR Convention: it put lives at risks and discourages rescue operations.

In light of this irresponsibility of Maltese and Italian authorities, the TALIA turned to Alarm Phone and the Civil Fleet for support and guidance.

The TALIA acted according to maritime law by rescuing the people in distress and offering them shelter. The livestock carrier interrupted its trajectory in order to carry out a SAR operation – they need a solution immediately. The health situation of the people on board is currently deteriorating, several people are in critical condition.

We call out to stand in solidarity with the rescued and the crew of TALIA and demand a port of safety, either in Malta or Italy. It is the responsibility and duty of these authorities to coordinate a port of safety. These games with people who just survived a Mediterranean crossing have to stop immediately! Let them in!

Alarm Phone, Sea-Watch & Mediterranea

Addresses to contact and demand a place of safety for the rescued people now:

Prime Minister Dr Robert Abela MP

Address: Office of the Prime Minister, Auberge de Castille Valletta VLT 1061

Email: [email protected] Tel: +356 2200 2400

Minister for European and Foreign Affairs

E-mail: [email protected], [email protected]

Rescued but not safe! Europe plays games with 52 lives!