News (EN)

MEDreport August 2022

curated by the MEDreport editorial team

In August, the number of people who were forced to flee, cross the Mediterranean Sea and managed to arrive in Italy was 15,998. Among them were 1,705 unaccompanied minors.

The issue of immigration has returned powerfully to TV lounges and rallies of political figures in the run-up to the September 25 elections. Nonetheless, we are witnessing something we have seen before: rescues entrusted almost exclusively to workers aboard civilian ships, overflowing hotspots in dilapidated conditions, and increasing fragility for those in need of help.

Yet, it bears mentioning that the narrative of a “migration emergency” is unrealistic. A narrative that, moreover, is not reflected in the documents circulated by political forces, which are often filled with confusing, vague solutions or, in some cases, where the issue is even totally absent.

Flavio Di Giacomo, spokesman for the International Organization for Migration, keeps repeating that there is “no numerical emergency.”

And yet, as Francesca Paci recalled in the pages of La Stampa, “there is no in Europe, where and fortunately in the aftermath of the Russian invasion more than 9 million Ukrainian refugees were received without a blow, nor even less so in Italy, where there is instead, this yes very concrete, a serious humanitarian emergency in the Lampedusa hotspot, a narrow organizational bottleneck (…).” For the umpteenth time: a fading hope for policies that really take charge of finding solutions.

Here the full report for August 2022 (link to download):

These data are processed on the basis of information provided by the Department for Civil Liberties and Immigration of the Ministry of the Interior of the Italian Republic. The data refer to the landing events detected by 8.00 on the reference day.

 

News (EN)

Joint Statement calling for the dismissal of UNHCR’s special envoy Vincent Cochetel

On Tuesday, 6 September 2022, while families of the disappeared and deceased at EU borders came together for a protest action in Zarzis, Tunisia, Vincent Cochetel, the UNHCR’s special envoy for the Western and Central Mediterranean sent out a tweet:

 

“Grieving for the loss. But the same mothers had no problem encouraging or funding their children to embark on those dangerous journeys. Like in Senegal, symbolically prosecuting parents for putting at risk their children could trigger serious attitudinal change on death journeys.”

 

Blaming mourning mothers, some of whom have searched for answers for over a decade, and even calling for their criminalisation through ‘symbolic prosecution’ is simply outrageous. In this joint statement, we want to denounce Mr Cochetel’s words in the strongest of terms. Mr Cochetel sent his tweet as a response to a ‘CommemorAction’, a large gathering in Zarzis that brought together the families of the disappeared, local fishermen, as well as activists from Africa and Europe. While the mothers, who are deeply traumatised, were publicly demanding answers, Mr Cochetel insulted them by making them responsible for their sons’ disappearance. 

(Photo credit: Alarm Phone)

 

Some of the mothers and sisters of the disappeared have responded to Mr Cochetel:

 

Jalila Taamallah (mother): It is the visa and border system that has put migrants in danger, not their mothers. It is the fault of migration policies that cause the deaths of people crossing the Mediterranean. Therefore we will continue to participate in the demonstrations for freedom of movement. You can’t kill our demand for truth and justice.

 

Hajer Ayachi (mother): It should be a shame to accuse mothers and sisters of missing migrants who have lost their loved ones of being responsible for their deaths. We have been fighting against governments since 2011 to show that it is migration policies that endanger the lives of our sons, not us. Every time the authorities deny their responsibility our sons die for a second time.

 

Gamra Chaieb (mother): We, the mothers of the disappeared, consider it a great shame that we are given the responsibility for the death of our sons. Our sons are victims and so are we, without any response from the governments and the visa system. They are the criminals, they pushed our sons to leave because they were in misery and then they abandoned us. My son left because he was sick with cancer. He just wanted to get well and live for his family and his little daughter.

 

Samia Jabloun (mother): I believe that this man is sick because never a mother pushes her son to immigrate. He is not humanitarian, he does not feel our pain, the policies of the “third world countries” are responsible and also the European Union which takes advantage of the wealth of these countries and makes them poor, for this reason the young people are unemployed, the poverty which pushes them to immigrate to improve their standard of living.

 

Awatef Daoudi (mother): If our children go to sea it is to do good to their families because in their country they are badly treated and badly paid and there is always segregation. Those who have money have the power and can do whatever they want even for visas, these are the businessmen and politicians, but most of the young people do not have rights and that is why they throw themselves into the water. In both cases, either at sea or in their country, they are dead. But unfortunately it is a shame that our government does not want to keep our young people well.

 

Nourhene Khenissi (sister): Before attacking the mothers of the disappeared, it would have been better if you had criticised the Tunisian and Italian states, especially the European Union, because it is the first and last cause of all these tragedies. And know that freedom of movement and travelling is a right for every human being.

 

Besbes Sarra (sister): It’s not true what he wrote about the mothers of the missing migrants, there are no families who throw their sons into the sea which represents hell and danger. So you don’t have the right to judge the feelings of the family because the relationship between the mother and her son is not just a word but it is more than that. You have to know that especially the relationship between all the members of the family is intimate because the son for the mother replaces the father, for the sister the brother represents the second father and all the supports of life, for the father the son represents the person who is the first responsible for the family during his absence and for the brother he is the help and the power. Finally, it is important to know that if a member of the family is absent, the whole family will be devastated.

 

Rania Abdeltif (sister): The mother will not put her son in danger, on the contrary, the mother wants her son to always be by her side, but the young people did not have a chance in their country, so they decided to emigrate to improve the life of their family. The mothers will never abandon their children, they are now fighting for their missing children. The feeling of a mother or sister losing her son or brother is a very painful feeling that no one will understand unless they live it.

 

Instead of blaming the EU border and visa regime, instead of denouncing the deadly migration policies of Europe, Mr Cochetel chose to blame the victims, turning them into perpetrators. This is unbearable and we are astonished: how can such a person remain in the position of a high-level official at the UNHCR? 

 

We acknowledge that Mr Cochetel has apologised and we also appreciate that the UNHCR has apologised for the statement of their special envoy. Nonetheless, and not least as Mr Cochetel has made unacceptable remarks already in the past, we believe that this is not enough. We call on the UNHCR to take action and to dismiss their special envoy or for Mr Cochetel to resign.

 

Importantly, we believe that the UN agency’s problems are not solved through the dismissal of an individual. The UNHCR as a whole has deep institutional flaws and has time and again failed those it claims to protect. The behaviour of the UNHCR toward vulnerable groups in places such as Libya and Tunisia, and the appalling response of their staff to refugee protests there, highlight some of the many severe shortcomings of this UN agency. 

News (EN)

MEDreport July 2022

curated by the MEDreport editorial team

 

In July, the number of people who were forced to flee and cross the Mediterranean Sea and managed to arrive in Italy was 13,746. Among them were 1,341 unaccompanied minors. In Lampedusa, crowded with tourists, the hotspot structure in the area is once again on its knees: over two thousand men, women, and children crammed in waiting for transfers. Something that has already happened in previous months, in previous years, but which, even this time, continues to take on the guise of something new.

As reported by journalists who give voice to the present horror, there is no longer any division between men and women, thousands of people forced to rest on filthy old mattresses, amidst dust and rubbish that invades the entire center. Predictably enough, the beginning of the election campaign in Italy – which has never actually ended – takes the opportunity to bring the important yet fragile issue of migration back to the center of the debate.

A tragic example of this is the case of the Gamar, the boat that saved 47 people on 3 October 2013. Today, however, it becomes a space for those who proclaim the need to strengthen ties – even more – with the ferocious Libyan Coast Guard, which, as can be seen in the following pages, continues its rejections on a daily basis.

Here the full report for July 2022 (link to download):

These data are processed on the basis of information provided by the Department for Civil Liberties and Immigration of the Ministry of the Interior of the Italian Republic. The data refer to the landing events detected by 8.00 on the reference day.
News (EN)

MEDreport June 2022

curated by the MEDreport editorial team

 

The number of people who were forced to flee and cross the Mediterranean Sea in June and managed to arrive in Italy was 8,008. Among them 763 unaccompanied minors. Once again this month, the tireless work of the ships of the civil fleet made it possible to save hundreds of lives. At the same time, however, constant interception by the socalled Libyan Coast Guard has brutally interrupted the attempts of so many people to find a better future.

An extensive research by Matteo Villa, on behalf of ISPI, has provided further confirmation of the nonexistence of the pull factor value: from June 2021 to date, 86% of arrivals by sea are autonomous. At the same time, we can see that the number of people who were disembarked from the Mediterranean in the same period is around 75,000: half of those fleeing Ukraine and rightly welcomed in Italy.

Can we really go on talking about a ‘landings emergency’? Once again this year, the hotspot on the island of Lampedusa is at breaking point: numbers that are predictable, but we constantly forget this. The blame cannot lie with those who arrive, but with a political management that, through opportunism or disinterest, continues to ignore the realities of migration.

 

Here the full report for June 2022 (link to download):

These data are processed on the basis of information provided by the Department for Civil Liberties and Immigration of the Ministry of the Interior of the Italian Republic. The data refer to the landing events detected by 8.00 on the reference day.
News (EN)

We stand at the side of our rescue coordinator, Iasonas Apostolopoulos, threatened by the Greek Government: “Solidarity will prevail!”

Once again, our rescue coordinator, Iasonas Apostolopoulos is being targeted and threatened by the Greek government, racist groups and the media affiliated to them.

Iasonas has been involved in SAR activities since 2015 and has rescued thousands of lives in the Aegean Sea and the Mediterranea sea.

This time the government’s spokesperson, Giannis Economou, described him as “traitor of Greece” for a speech that he gave at the European Parliament.

www.instagram.com/tv/Cd8DBvVAZuz/?igshid=YmMyMTA2M2Y=

The reason? Iasonas is speaking out against the brutal European migration policy and the barbaric pushbacks in the Aegean Sea committed by the Greek government.

This new attack against him caused a massive wave of hate speech and intimidation by the far right, including dozens of death threats. Pro government anonymous Twitter accounts called publicly for his assassination by the secret service.

All this is happening amid the highest level of military tensions in the Aegean Sea, between Greece and Turkey. Erdogan and Mitsotakis are threatening each other with war every day.”

A few months earlier, the same far right accounts released the address of his family’s house together with pictures from the front door. In this case, Mediterranea sent a letter to the Greek embassy in Rome asking them to intervene with the Greek government to ensure the protection and safety of himself and his family.

mediterranearescue.org/news/lettera-allambasciatore-della-grecia-sulle-minacce-a-iasonas-apostolopoulos/

Some of Iasonas words were:
In Greece we have the only coastguard in the world which instead of rescuing people from the sea, they throw people into the sea. Greek authorities kidnapp migrants who have already reached Greek shores and drop them back into open sea.”

What Iasonas Apostolopoulos said at the European Parliament is not something new. This barbaric practice by the Greek government has been documented by a plethora of international media and organizations such as Der Spiegel, The Guardian and Amnesty International.
Only UNHCR has recorded 540 cases of pushbacks by Greece since the beginning of 2020, along the Greek-Turkish borders.

It was exactly these investigations that led to the resignation of the leader of Frontex, Fabrice Leggeri 1,5 months ago. There is overwhelming evidence that Frontex has been covering up crimes against refugees at sea committed by the greek coastguard.

www.theguardian.com/global-development/2022/apr/28/revealed-eu-border-agency-involved-in-hundreds-of-refugee-pushbacks

We stand on the side of our comrade and we declare that Solidarity and Sea Rescue are not crimes.
Denouncing Human Rights violations are not crimes.

The only crime is the border regime of Fortress Europe which condemns thousands of people to death every year.
As long as these criminal policies are in place, we will always continue to fight against them.

Solidarity will prevail!

News (EN)

THE REPORT OF THE #MISSION12 OF THE MARE JONIO: SOLIDARITY AT SEA AGAINST DEPORTATIONS AND A PLACE OF SAFETY FOR THOSE RESCUED

92 PEOPLE RESCUED IN THE CENTRAL MEDITERRANEAN AND SAFELY DISEMBARKED IN POZZALLO

92 people were rescued in the Central Mediterranean and safely disembarked in Pozzallo (south-eastern Sicily) last Saturday 11th June by MEDITERRANEA Saving Humans’ MARE JONIO. Our ship left the previous Friday, 3rd June, from the Sicilian port of Mazara del Vallo for the twelfth observation and monitoring, search and rescue mission of the only ship of the European civil fleet flying the Italian flag.

A few hours after entering the Libyan SAR zone (south of the 34°20 parallel) in the afternoon of Saturday 4th June, the MARE JONIO intervened in support of the Sea-Watch-3 ship of the German organisation of the same name, which had heard by radio a report from a Libyan fishing boat of a first boat in difficulty. As the two civilian vessels were heading for the indicated position, we could distinctly observe on the radar the intense activity of the Maltese military drone AS2132 in the area and, subsequently, listen to the radio chatter of a Maltese Armed Forces AW139/SAR2187 helicopter that was flying over the boat in distress, providing its position to a Libyan patrol boat that was on its way to the scene. It was pointed out to the pilots of the Maltese helicopter by radio that they were collaborating in a clear violation of international law.

Indeed, collaborating with the capture at sea and deportation to Libya of people who are fleeing from a country where they are exposed to unspeakable violence and abuse is a violation of both the 1979 Hamburg Convention on Sea Rescue and the 1951 Geneva Convention on the Rights of Refugees and Asylum Seekers. There is a ban on refoulement for people fleeing from Libya, and according to UN agencies, Libya itself cannot be considered a ‘safe haven’ for disembarkation.

After much insistence on our part, the Maltese military helicopter left the scene and the Libyan patrol boat reversed its course, heading towards the African coast. At this point, at around 11.30 p.m., the Rescue Teams of Sea-Watch-3 and Mediterranea reached the drifting boat and, with the support of the Mare Jonio’s crew, eighty-five people including several women and children were safely transferred on board the German ship, which was able to resume its course northwards with 307 people on board. While the Mare Jonio continued its monitoring activities in international waters.

Photo credit: Sea Watch

Favourable weather conditions saw several departures from the Libyan coast on Sunday 5th June with numerous boats in distress at sea and an aggressive presence of the patrol boats of the so-called “Libyan coast guard.” Shortly after witnessing an initial pull-back by Libyan militias, at around 10am in the stretch of sea north of the Bouri oil platforms, at 10.30am the Mare Jonio spotted through binoculars a second boat in distress, adrift with failing engine and overcrowded at risk of capsizing. Our rescue teams immediately approached and distributed life vests to the people on board. As they were starting to transfer people on board our ship, the unit 654 “Sabratha” of the so-called Libyan Coast Guard arrived at the scene of the rescue operation at great speed. This is one of those Bigliani-class patrol boats donated in 2018 by Italy. Via radio the Mare Jonio repeatedly asked the patrol boat to move away without interfering with the rescue so as not to jeopardise the safety of the shipwrecked people, who were already in a panic over the fear of being caught and taken back to Libya. No response from the Libyans. And despite this heavy and dangerous interference, all 29 people were rescued on board the Mare Jonio by our Rescue Team.

Subsequently, thanks to the alert sent by Alarm Phone, the MEDITERRANEA ship headed further north towards a third boat in distress that was located between the Maltese SAR area and Tunisian waters. Unfortunately, when we arrived at the scene, we found only the smoking carcass of a small plastic boat, an irrefutable sign that the Libyan patrol boats, which we had seen from our radar were particularly busy in the area, had intervened. In this case, the illegal pushback operation, this time within a search and rescue area of formal European responsibility, succeeded: eighteen people, including women and children, were captured and forcibly returned to the horrors of violence and abuse, torture and rape, from which they were trying to escape.

In the night between Sunday 5th and Monday 6th June, while on board giving initial treatment to the 29 shipwrecked people, the Mare Jonio received a MAYDAY RELAY, a distress call, from the sailing boat IMARA of the German humanitarian organisation R42 Sail And Rescue. Since 2 a.m. Imara was in fact close to a wooden boat overloaded with dozens of people adrift and in danger of capsizing at any moment. The German sailing boat was unable to transfer the shipwrecked people on board due to its too limited space, but it had immediately provided assistance to the people in danger, distributing life vests and supplying them with drinking water. Since the boat in distress was in fact in the SAR area of Maltese responsibility, several requests for intervention were sent, via e-mail and satellite telephone, to the Maltese authorities, but they went unheeded: yet another case of inaction and omission on the part of that country.

Arriving on the scene at around 10.30 am, the Mare Jonio’s Rescue Team found a dangerous situation and immediately proceeded to rescue and embark the 63 people in distress, including some 30 young boys, all unaccompanied minors, and to provide them with the necessary care.

The Mare Jonio then continued its navigation northwards, while reports continued to arrive, particularly from Alarm Phone, of other boats in distress, which were heading towards Lampedusa, between the SAR zones under Maltese and Libyan jurisdiction. In the same hours, aerial reconnaissance activity by the Osprey1 and Osprey2 aircraft of the European Border Control Agency FRONTEX and Malta’s military drone, which we had already seen at work on Saturday afternoon, was particularly intense. This activity did not initiate any official reports of distress, to be conveyed through the channels provided by international law for all commercial and civilian vessels crossing in the area, but instead had as its correspondence numerous interventions by Libyan patrol boats, which once again pushed 10 to 15 nautical miles north within the Maltese SAR zone. In the evening the Mare Jonio headed at full force towards two boats that had contacted Alarm Phone seeking help: we confirmed to the Maltese and Italian authorities our willingness to intervene and we actively collaborated with the Italian Coast Guard in their search. A couple of hours later we received confirmation that the patrol boat CP308 of the Italian Coast Guard, together with a patrol boat of the Guardia di Finanza (Finance Police), had departed from Lampedusa and operated the two rescues.  All the people on board, about twenty on each of the two boats including several women and children, had disembarked safely on the island.

As there was no longer any case of open distress, on the morning of Tuesday 7th June the Mare Jonio sent the first request for the assignment of a safe port of disembarkation (Place of Safety) for the total 92 people rescued and assisted on board our ship to the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre in Rome (IT MRCC Rome).

We headed north, continuing to monitor the situation at sea, while off the coast of Sicily, Sea Watch 3 with 356 people on board had been waiting for a safe port since 6th June. Both their requests and ours received no positive response, thus starting a ‘tug-of-war’ with the Italian authorities that led us to forcefully demand, at noon on Wednesday 8 June, the allocation of a port without further delay:

https://mediterranearescue.org/news/un-porto-sicuro-subito-per-i-naufraghi-a-bordo-della-mare-jonio-e-della-sea-watch-3/

It is well known how, at 9:39 p.m. on Wednesday evening, IT MRCC in Rome notified the Mare Jonio (and at the same time the Sea Watch 3) that the Italian Ministry of the Interior had assigned Pozzallo as ‘destination port’ for the disembarkation of the people rescued on board.

The two ships entered and moored in port on the morning of Thursday 9th June. On the same afternoon, the long and tedious disembarkation operations began.  For various reasons, these were conducted in hiccups and with unacceptable delays, all linked to the glaring inadequacy of the system of reception of people ashore, with overcrowded hotspots and centres bordering on collapse, cumbersome identification procedures, and the authorities’ lack of personnel. This is an unacceptable situation, which offends the dignity of the people rescued and unnecessarily prolongs their suffering. To make this point clear: while waiting for disembarkation Sea Watch 3 had to carry out no less than twelve medical evacuations, while on board the Mare Jonio there were 33 minors who are the subject of enhanced protection, and all the shipwrecked people were particularly tried by months of abuse, violence and torture suffered in Libya and by a sea crossing that lasted over three days with very little water and food. Amongst those rescued, we collected a number of chilling testimonies and our medical team found untreated fractures, wounds and disabling injuries as a direct result of their treatment in the Libyan detention camps.

Forty-eight hours after their arrival, in the morning of Saturday 10th June, disembarkation operations were concluded: all the women, men, children and young people rescued on board Sea Watch 3 and Mare Jonio were finally able to set foot in Europe.

Once the post mission operations (the waste disposal, ship sanitisation and refuelling) carried out in Pozzallo concluded, Mare Jonio set off again, and on Monday 12th, with the arrival in Mazara del Vallo, our #Mission12 came to an end.

We are happy to have snatched 92 more lives from the risk of shipwreck, and certain death, and from a fate of abuse in detention camps in Libya. This was possible thanks to the solidarity at sea of the Civil Fleet, embodied in this case in the cooperation between Sea Watch, Imara and Alarm Phone with MEDITERRANEA.

On the other hand, we continue to be saddened by the crimes against humanity that, with the complicity and collaboration of European authorities – we have witnessed once again – are being carried out in the Mediterranean Sea with continuous captures and deportations to the hell from which these people are trying to escape. Countering with our actions the systematic violations of the Hamburg Convention on SAR and the Geneva Convention on the Rights of Asylum Seekers and Refugees is one of the most urgent tasks.

Finally, we can’t help but notice how, with a firm stance, it has been possible to achieve what international law requires, namely the allocation ‘as quickly as possible to the nearest safe place of disembarkation’, whereas in recent months civilian rescue ships have been forced to wait offshore for up to 12 days. This must be matched by an adequate and dignified reception and care system for people ashore. With everyone’s support, MEDITERRANEA will never stop fighting for these goals.

Mazara del Vallo, 14thJune 2022

 

To support our missions: https://donate.mediterranearescue.it/missione12p/

 

News (EN)

A PLACE OF SAFETY NOW FOR SURVIVORS ABOARD THE MARE JONIO AND SEA-WATCH-3

Mediterranea’s ship is heading to Sicily with 92 rescued people on board: “Italian Interior Ministry has 10 hours to organize. Then we go in”

 

No more unnecessary waiting and suffering for shipwrecked people rescued at sea.

The MARE JONIO ship is heading toward the Sicilian coast with 92 people on board, including 30+ unaccompanied minors, rescued in two separate operations on June 5th and 6th in international waters in the Libyan and Maltese SAR zones, and 11 members of our Crew.

In accordance with international law, at 2:40 p.m. yesterday afternoon we requested the assignment of a Safe Port of Disembarkation (PoS – Place of Safety) from the Maritime Rescue Coordination Center in Rome (IT MRCC), which responded at 3:48 p.m. yesterday saying that “the request had been forwarded for determinations to the competent National Authority”. That is, the Ministry of the Interior. Having then received no further instructions, this morning at 7:40 a.m. we repeated the request, and the response from the Coast Guard operations room was the same: MRCC is also awaiting the decision of the Interior Ministry.

We are an Italian flag vessel, and only the MRCC Rome can coordinate and assist us.

The Ministry of Interior, well-known in Italy as “il Viminale”, which has been required since 2017 to assign as soon as possible a safe port of disembarkation for people rescued at sea from the risk of shipwreck – and in precarious conditions after having previously been victims of all kinds of violence, torture and deprivation – has not yet provided instructions to MRCC Rome, and thus to MARE JONIO. Right now, Sea-Watch-3, another civilian rescue ship with 352 shipwrecked people on board, has also been waiting at sea for four days. Too long, while people’s suffering is prolonged.

 

We have informed the authorities that we are proceeding towards Sicily, also in view of worsening weather conditions.

We are aware of the crowded situation at the Lampedusa hotspot, due not to numbers or particular emergencies, but only to the disorganization and mismanagement of the transfer of people from the island of Lampedusa to Sicily and Italy. An excessive slowness that suggests a desire to “show off” the propaganda about the “invasion”. This while it was seen as fair and materially possible to welcome in Italy nearly 130,000 refugees from Ukraine in three months. Twice the number of refugees arriving in an entire year from the sea.

We are heading to the southern Sicilian coast, because we want to facilitate landing procedures, not burden Lampedusa, which must continue to be “the island that saves” and not a refugee camp. And we reiterate that instead of having spent 2 million euros a month on each absurd and useless “quarantine ship”, resources should be used for a rapid transfer system and for reception places in Italy worthy of the name.

The government’s justification is that “there are logistical problems”. These problems though are due to the fact that no one has restored a reception system that was largely dismantled between 2018 and 2019. And every time we have to raise our voices to obtain what is a human right: to give reception and assistance as soon as possible to shipwrecked people fleeing from detention camps and torture. Something that, according to the 1979 Hamburg Convention on Sea Rescue, which in our country has the rank of a constitutional norm, is an obligation for the Italian state.

This way of doing things has to stop. It is about politics, not “logistics” or “technicalities”. It is about the Government, not our Coast Guard.

In this Mission #12, we have been forced to face military patrol boats – supplied and financed by Italy in the hands of Libyan militiamen. We had to do this to avoid very serious violations of the Geneva Convention that Italy signed. Capturing and deporting to Libya children, women and men who are fleeing from that hell is a crime as well as a horrible thing. Just think if the Ukrainians fleeing were handed back to the Russian army. Are they treated differently by Europe just because they are white?

Even after the first rescue operations in our sea, we had to continue patrolling. Without the ships of the civil society – of the European Civil Fleet – anything could happen to thousands of human beings on the move: to die by drowning or to be deported. Yet the sea is full of planes and drones from Frontex and EU countries. The sea is also full of Italian and European military ships, as proven by the story of the Sicilian fishing boats attacked with machine guns by Libyan militias from Bengasi. They received protection from the Italian Navy, as it should be. The patrol boat Grecale was in fact able to reach the fishing boats within 20 minutes from the attack.

This must stop. The decision to let people die or be captured at sea, consigning them to a fate of torture and violence, is political not “technical”.

The situation today is very simple: either we are immediately assigned a port of disembarkation, a “place of safety” as required by international and national law, or as soon as we arrive on the Sicilian coast, we will enter the nearest available port. The Viminale has 10 hours to organize this.

MEDITERRANEA Saving Humans

8th June 2022, 11 a.m.

 

News (EN)

MEDreport May 2022

curated by the MEDreport editorial team

In May, the number of people who were forced to flee, to cross the Mediterranean Sea and managed to arrive in Italy was 8,963.
Among them were 979 unaccompanied minors. The pushbacks by the so-called Libyan Coast Guard continued daily this month: violent interceptions on board swift patrol boats against hundreds of people who overcame all fears to try to escape the Libyan horrors.

On 21 April last, we recall, the European Commission confirmed that it wanted to continue strengthening the operations of the Libyan military by handing them new ships.

Is this, we ask ourselves, the Europe of rights? The Europe we believe in?

The tireless work of the humanitarian ships has made it possible to continue saving the honor of this torpid Europe: a big welcome to the new ship Aurora, with the crew of Sea Watch on board with the technical support of the British NGO SAR-Relief.

 

Here the full report for May 2022 (link to download):

These data are processed on the basis of information provided by the Department for Civil Liberties and Immigration of the Ministry of the Interior of the Italian Republic. The data refer to the landing events detected by 8.00 on the reference day.
News (EN)

Violations Of International Law and Foiled Rejections

The First 24 Hours of Marejonio’s Mission 12 in the Central Mediterranean: 29 People, Rescued From Shipwreck and Detention Camps, Now on Board

The first twenty-four hours spent in the Central Mediterranean by the ship MARE JONIO of MEDITERRANEANEA Saving Humans, which left the Sicilian port of Mazara del Valle on Friday afternoon for the twelfth mission of observation and monitoring, search and rescue of the only ship of the European civil fleet flying the Italian flag, have been very intense.

A few hours after entering the Libyan SAR zone (south of the 34°20 parallel) on Saturday afternoon, the MARE JONIO intervened in support of the Sea-Watch-3 ship of the German organisation of the same name, which had heard by radio a report from a Libyan fishing boat of a first boat in distress. As the two civilian vessels were heading for the position indicated, they could observe on the radar the intense activity in the area of the Maltese military drone AS2132 and, afterwards, listen to the radio chatter of a Maltese Armed Forces AW139/SAR2187 helicopter that was flying over the boat in distress, providing its position to a Libyan patrol boat that was on its way to the scene. It was pointed out to the pilots of the Maltese helicopter that they were collaborating in a clear violation of international law.

Indeed, collaborating with the capture at sea and deportation to Libya of people who are fleeing from a country where they are exposed to unspeakable violence and abuse is a violation of both the 1979 Hamburg Convention on Sea Rescue and the 1951 Geneva Convention on the Rights of Refugees and Asylum Seekers. There is a ban on refoulement for people fleeing from Libya, and Libya itself can in no way be considered, even according to UN agencies, a ‘safe port’ for disembarkation.

After much insistence on our part, the Maltese military helicopter left the scene and the Libyan patrol boat reversed course, heading towards the African coast. At this point, at around 11.30 p.m., the Rescue Teams of Sea-Watch-3 and Mediterranea reached the drifting boat and, with the support of the Mare Jonio’s crew, eighty-five people, including several women and children, were safely transferred on board the German ship, which was able to resume its course north with 307 people on board. The Mare Jonio continued its monitoring activities in international waters.

Favourable weather conditions saw several departures from the Libyan coast this Sunday morning with numerous boats in distress at sea and an aggressive presence of the patrol boats of the so-called “Libyan coast guard.” Shortly after witnessing an initial pull-back by Libyan militias, at around 10am in the stretch of sea north of the Bouri oil platforms, at 10.30am the Mare Jonio spotted through binoculars a second boat in distress, adrift with failing engine and overcrowded at risk of capsizing. Our rescue teams immediately approached and distributed life vests to the people on board. As they were starting to transfer people on board our ship, the unit 654 “Sabratha” of the so-called Libyan Coast Guard arrived at the scene of the rescue operation at great speed. This is one of those Bigliani-class patrol boats donated in 2018 by Italy. Via radio the Mare Jonio repeatedly asked the patrol boat to move away without interfering with the rescue so as not to jeopardise the safety of the shipwrecked people, who were already in a panic over the fear of being caught and taken back to Libya. No response from the Libyans. And despite this heavy and dangerous interference, all 29 people were rescued on board the Mare Jonio by our Rescue Team.

Subsequently, thanks to the alert sent by Alarm Phone, the MEDITERRANEA ship headed further north towards a third boat in distress that was located between the Maltese SAR area and Tunisian waters. Unfortunately, when we arrived at the scene, we found only the smoking carcass of a small plastic boat, an irrefutable sign that the Libyan patrol boats, which we had seen from our radar were particularly busy in the area, had intervened. In this case, the illegal pushback operation, this time within a search and rescue area of formal European responsibility, succeeded: eighteen people, including women and children, were captured and forcibly returned to the horrors of violence and abuse, torture and rape, from which they were trying to escape.

We were happy to have snatched 29 lives from the risk of shipwreck, and certain death, and the fate of abuse in detention camps in Libya. This was possible thanks to the cooperation at sea of the Civil Fleet, in this case Sea Watch and Alarm Phone. On the other hand, we were saddened by the crimes against humanity that we witnessed once again and that are committed in the Mediterranean with the complicity and cooperation of European authorities.

Mare Jonio’s Mission 12 continues.

News (EN)

MARE JONIO SAILS FOR ITS #MISSION12 FROM MAZARA DEL VALLO TODAY

THE PRESENCE OF THE CIVIL FLEET IN THE CENTRAL MEDITERRANEAN IS INCREASINGLY NECESSARY.

MEDITERRANEA Saving Humans’ ship, MARE JONIO, set sail from the Sicilian port of Mazara del Vallo today at 1 p.m. The ship is headed south and will reach the SAR zone off Libya’s coast tomorrow.

For MEDITERRANEA, a civil society platform dedicated to protecting fundamental rights, this is Mission 12. It is also Mare Jonio’s third observation and monitoring, search and rescue mission to be conducted this year. MARE JONIO is the only European Civil Fleet vessel flying the Italian flag. During its previous two missions in January and April 2022, 214 people were successfully rescued and were brought to a port of safety in Italy by this ship.

According to data collected by the United Nations from the beginning of the year and updated on May 28th, more than 600 women, men, and children lost their lives in the Central Mediterranean. Additionally, more than 7,000 people (including 288 minors) were intercepted and captured at sea by the so-called Libyan Coast Guard and were forcibly taken back to the very country whose horrors they were and are still trying to escape.

Just yesterday in Brussels at the European Parliament, influential representatives from Libya’s civil society strongly denounced the “violence and racism that have escalated in Libya” and that supporting the so-called Coast Guard, as the European Parliament has so far done, “kills people.”

This is the reason why the European Civil Fleet’s presence at sea is needed now more than ever. At present, Sea-Watch 3 is alone in Libya’s SAR zone.

We are setting sail, again. Thank you to our extraordinary crews and to all those who support us.

 

To support #Mission12: https://donate.mediterranearescue.it/missione12p/