News (EN)

Mediterranea restarts for a new mission

This morning at 8:15, as soon as the weather conditions allowed it, the ship MARE JONIO gave up its moorings from the Lampedusa island port to continue her mission heading South. continua

News (EN)

BREAKING NEWS – From Mare Jonio, engaged in patrolling and monitoring operations in the Central Mediterranean

We denounce a capture and deportation in an area of war of 80 people onboard a white rubber boat 65 miles north of Al Khoms.

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News (EN)

The Mediterranean battlefield of migration

By OpenDemocracy, by Sandro Mezzadra and Maurice Stierl 


 

In the central Mediterranean it is doubtful whether the lines have ever been drawn with greater clarity: the lines between force and freedom that mark out the battlefield of migration. On the one side there are the migrant travellers, those who stubbornly move and move on in conditions of extreme hardship and violence, and there are those in solidarity with them: activists who listen to their pleas from the sea as calls toward a collective struggle, as well as humanitarians, including ‘accidental’ ones such as north African fishermen, who go out to sea to conduct vital rescue operations.

On the other side there are the governments and institutions of ‘EUrope’ as well as their north African allies who continue to build up a veritable ‘refoulement industry’ at sea, a machinery based on the violation of rights and dignity, the breach of the law of the sea, international law, human rights law, and refugee conventions.

Normally, lines of political conflict are complex, blurred, not really line-like. When we look toward the situation in the central Mediterranean Sea, however, we see an erasure of complexity. Where once European military-humanitarian operations such as Mare Nostrum, and later, though certainly to a lesser degree, Triton or Eunavfor Med had blurred the dimensions of migrant rescue and migrant deterrence, migrant protection and border protection, there is an unprecedented duality in the enactment of force and freedom. Where we once spoke about a ‘humanitarianisation’ of the border, we now see viscerally the materiality and depth of inhumanity and a purity of violence that Europe is no longer able, or willing, to hide.

Off the Libyan coast

What plays out off the coast of Libya are forms of mass abduction that are not merely tolerated but strategically organised and orchestrated by European governments and its coastguards. When boats depart from Libya, the precarious passengers on board know that it is a race against time. They have to rapidly put a considerable distance between them and the war-torn country in order to stand any chance of escaping the so-called Libyan coastguards who – financed, trained, and equipped by Europe, and most notably by the Italian government – are likely to chase after them in high-speed vessels, keen to uphold the conditions of their lucrative deal.

The Libyan authorities are participants in the ‘smuggling business’ in Libya and beneficiaries of migrant capture at sea, a circuit of exploitation that involves practices of detaining, smuggling and trafficking, abducting at sea, and, again, detaining. Besides oil, it is the exploitation of migrants, many of whom have tried the sea crossing several times, that constitutes a main source of economic rent and profit in Libya, some of which also fuels the war economies of rivalling military factions.

Besides the escaping migrants themselves, currently, there are merely activists and humanitarians struggling against this machinery of capture and abuse. Sometimes, they come on time. When the rescue vessel Mare Jonio of the NGO Mediterranea sighted a migrant boat in mid-March, they raced to get to the scene before the Libyan forces could who were shooting north on a speed boat. 49 individuals were rescued and brought to Lampedusa, where they chanted ‘liberté, liberté!’ upon arrival. The Italian customs police placed Mare Jonio under ‘investigative seizure’ and the captain and head of mission under indictment, while the activists declared: “We rescued these migrants twice – from shipwreck and from the risk of being captured and taken back to suffer again the tortures and horrors from which they were fleeing.” Less than a month later, the NGO Sea-Eye’s rescue vessel Alan Kurdi rushed to the scene of another group in need who had shortly before reached out to the activists of the Alarm Phone, a transnational network running a hotline for people in distress at sea. These 64 lives were also rescued, though at the time of writing, they have to endure yet another stand-off at sea, with the Alan Kurdi disallowed from landing in European harbours.

At other times, activists and humanitarians come too late or are entirely absent, not least due to the vicious criminalisation campaigns of European governments. In mid-January, several migrant boats had made it relatively far but through Italian pressure exerted onto the Libyan allies from the highest political ranks, including the prime minister, those fleeing were captured and violently returned to gruesome detention centres, where the survivors reached out to activists and journalistsbut whose cries for freedom were silenced. Similarly, on April 10, a boat from Libya contacted Alarm Phone activists to amplify their calls for rescue. Their voice message sent from the boat was listened to thousands of times: “We are dying, in the war, in the ocean, in Tunisia or in Libya”.

Eventually, they were intercepted and returned to Libya where over the past few days, the military conflict between the two major factions of the country has further escalated, with dozens of casualties already reported. Alarm Phone activists decried: “MRCC Rome has now confirmed to us that the so-called Libyan Coastguard intercepted the boat. The 20ppl are being returned to an active war zone by a militia funded by the EU. Everyone was watching while this inhumane & illegal refoulement was carried out. Shame on you!”

What plays out in the Mediterranean Sea every day before our eyes is, indeed, a shameful and cynical spectacle, a systematic denial of rights, dignity and freedom. The gloves have come off and the illusion of the much-proclaimed ‘European values’ is vividly exposed. The lines between force and freedom on the Mediterranean battlefield are drawn with greater clarity than ever, and the only question that now remains is: which side are you on?

This is not a question that concerns merely migrants and their supporters. Rather, it is a question that fundamentally concerns the very future of the society we want to live in and build toward. The struggles fought out in the Mediterranean Sea both expose a Europe of violent borders and call upon all of us to work collectively toward a different Europe to come.

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News (EN)

Mediterranea: Italy wrong, Libyan ports aren’t safe

By InfoMigrants


The Italian interior ministry claims that the EU considers Libya “a trustworthy country.” Both migrant rescue NGO “Mediterranea Saving Humans” and the European Commission dispute this.

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News (EN)

You can’t detain the stubbornness of freedom

by Sandro Mezzadra


Liberté, liberté! This chant – belted out by 49 refugees and migrants in the moment of their landing at Lampedusa last Tuesday – contains the real meaning of what has happened around the Mare Jonio over the last few days, Mediterranea’s ship. And this is the cry that narrates the drama of what is happening on a daily basis – not only in the Mediterranean Sea but also on land, lands crossed by men and women fleeing towards the southern side of the sea, for it is a drive for freedom that pushes the movement of migrants, a drive as basic as it is powerful. Tools of control swarm around them, attempting to contain this drive and frequently negating it with tragic results, from the most sophisticated (radars and other technologies for surveying space and intercepting bodies in motion) to the most rudimentary and violent: the whip and other methods of torture in the hands of the of the Libyan concentration camps’ guards.

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News (EN)

Orange Vest Movement

There is a movement of people that don’t fit in: who think that every human being has the right to be saved and that humanity comes first.

And then there is the Orange Vest, the life jacket, a symbol of sea rescue, but also a symbol of life.

By wearing it you take on the dreams and hopes of those who have crossed the sea, and also of those who haven’t made it because no one was there to help them.

And so the Orange Vest Movement was born. A movement that saves people, born of an international community that can’t remain indifferent to the thousands of deaths in the Central Mediterranean. continua

News (EN)

The “Mare Jonio” rescued 49 people from a shipwreck: now Italy must indicate a safe haven!

The “Mare Jonio” rescued 49 people from a shipwreck: now Italy must indicate a safe haven!

The “Mare Jonio,” a ship flying an Italian flag and run by “Mediterranea Saving Humans,” has rescued 49 people on a rubber boat in distress while engaged in a monitoring mission in the Central Mediterranean, 42 miles off the Libyan coast. The warning, alerting to a boat adrift in international waters, came from the spotter plane “Moonbird,” run by the NGO “Sea Watch.”
The “Mare Jonio” headed toward the reported position. After informing the Italian Coast Guard it has performed the rescue according to international human rights law, maritime law, and the Italian navigation code.
Complying with the established procedures for such cases and with the aim to avoid a tragedy, the “Mare Jonio” has rescued all the people on board. It has reported to have finalized the rescue to a Libyan vessel that arrived on site while the operation was ongoing. 12 among the rescued people turned out to be minors.
People on board were at sea for almost two days, and although health conditions seem quite stable they are all exhausted and with problems of dehydration. The medical staff aboard the “Mare Jonio” is taking care of them. continua

News (EN)

Mediterranea, getting ready to ‘save humans’

By InfoMigrants, Patrizio Nissirio.


Mediterranea is a mission that aims above all to show solidarity with migrants braving the Mediterranean and against European governments’ policies towards them. The Mare Jonio ship, the flagship of the project, and its crew are nevertheless prepared to save human lives as well. InfoMigrants joined them during a training exercise.

 

 

 

The sea is raging out beyond the quay in Palermo port, with Sicily’s mild climate seemingly lashed away by the icy wind. The volunteers of Mediterranea pay scant attention, however, focused as they are on preparing to sail south of the island to areas where boats carrying migrants venture into areas under the responsibility of Italy, Malta, and Tunisia.

Private migrant rescue vessels in the Mediterranean are now less numerous than they were in recent years. When they pick up migrants, they often find themselves bounced back and forth between the various countries deemed responsible for them: a situation that Mediterranea says is intolerable.

 

 

 

The war on NGOs’ led to the project”, says Caccia. 

 

 

Mediterranea’s Saving Humans project is the brainchild of Beppe Caccia and Luca Casarini, both well-known for their longstanding activism within the Italian left. Caccia spoke to Infomigrants about how the project began. “We decided to take action in late June 2018, faced with the ‘war’ that several governments were waging on NGOs (working to save migrants in the Mediterranean Sea, Ed.). But we did this in a discrete manner since a public announcement would have led to polemics,” he said.

Various people and bodies joined the project in the following months, such as MoltiVolti, a lively restaurant and co-working space in Palermo’s Ballarò area, where many migrants from the nearby SPRAR asylum seekers assistance center find work and a place to socialize.
Mediterranea has also received support from many cities that have sided against the anti-migration policies of the Italian government: Palermo, Naples, and Milan as well as Barcelona and Amsterdam. Then there is also the Ya Basta! Organization of Bologna and the national branch of ARCI, as well as the ‘counterinformation’ website iDiavoli.
Caccia noted that “fundraising activities then began and in July we had enough money to buy the ship Mare Ionio, a tugboat built in 1972.” He noted that the purchase was necessary since ”those we contacted to rent one were afraid of political retaliation against them and fallout on their businesses. The purchase was made possible mostly by Banca Etica and the fact that some MPs acted as guarantors for credit lines.”
Getting ready for rescues at a difficult time. 
The three days in Palermo begin with a practical exercise in Marina di Cinisi, not far from the Falcone e Borsellino airport. The 35 members of the Mediterranea rescue team listen as Mark, a Brit working with the Sea Watch NGO, explains how to appear friendly to the migrants onboard, how to use the right tone of voice and never yell, how to control facial expressions, and to never accept rash acts. “If someone jumps into the water because they want to be saved first, throw them a life jacket but do not pull them up first,” the instructor said.
We are against the silent massacre, says Casarini. 
Luca Casarini claims that “a silent massacre” is being committed in the Mediterranean Sea. “We gathered this from the silence of the Navtex system, the service that provides weather alerts, as well as the rescue calls to ships. From October to December there was an enormous silence. Obviously, there are boats in distress but we don’t know anything about them anymore. This is shown by the fact that even though journeys in the central Mediterranean have been reduced, the percentage of deaths in relation to this number has risen.”
Casarini explains this is because the authorities now manage the search and rescue areas differently. “They should cooperate to increase safety levels but now they only look at their own work.” Migrant boat wrecks have become a constant, Casarini says. “In this way, you make those that fled Libyan detention camps drown, and this is a violation of the law of the sea and of international law,” he said.
“Moral disobedience, civil obedience” 
The training of volunteers for Mediterranea – at the technical and legal levels – occurs in MoltiVolti in the Palermo Ballarò area. Casarini said that Mare Jonio and the Raj sailboat that flanks it will patrol the waters close to one another, a few miles away from each other at the most.  Sighting boats in distress has been found to work better this way, using both binoculars and alert systems, Casarini explains.
Alessandra Sciurba, head of the Mediterranea legal team, explained their philosophy. “By practicing civil obedience, we are actually practicing moral disobedience. This is because we comply strictly with the law of the sea. Governments are the ones breaking it. This is why we cooperate with other NGO ships operating in the Mediterranean and why we collect material to take to the European Court of Human Rights.”
“When we find out that a boat is in distress, we follow the procedure closely in notifying the various national authorities.” Sciurba underscores that Mediterranea’s “became necessary when we realized that a basic rule was no longer a given: to save those at risk of drowning. We understood that we needed to start over from the ground up, since this rule stopped being taken for granted by many.” The team of Mediterranea, she says, will thus “be at sea to bear witness, coordinate, and – if needed – save human lives.”
Onboard the Mare Jonio. 
The ship hums with activity. At the stern, a container has been mounted that is meant to host anyone rescued. Calculations are made about how many it can hold, then the equipment of the small cabin where the infirmary will be is outlined. It is explained that the migrants will have to take a shower, since many arrive covered in petrol after the crossing.
Also, the volunteers must know how to frisk the ‘guests’ (that’s the only term used), because someone could be carrying a weapon, and that’s not tolerable onboard.
And then the hammering and welding begin. All the volunteers do their part under the watchful eye of seven professional sailors who ensure that the sailing will be safe. A total of 11 people will be onboard for the mission: the sailors and four volunteers. The Mare Jonio is an old but sturdy vessel, Caccia said, and “all the instruments are new.”
“We are at sea to remember that there are people risking their lives and dying in the attempt to reach Europe,” he stresses. “We want to be ready to save as many as possible. Onboard there is a great deal of enthusiasm, determination, and the desire to help. And even outside this group, we receive hundreds of emails from people who ask us how they can help. And this alone is an exceptional achievement.”

Photo: Marta Buso
News (EN)

Despite illegal ban, a delegation gets aboard Sea-Watch 3

Today at 9:25am a delegation consisting of three members of Italian Parliament (Nicola
Fratoianni, Riccardo Magi, and Stefania Prestigiacomo), the Mayor of Siracusa Francesco Italia, medical doctors and lawyers, the spokesperson of Sea Watch Italia Giorgia Linardi, and Alessandra Sciurba of Mediterranea Saving Humans, has reached on a rubber boat Sea-Watch 3, which is anchored off the port of Siracusa, and has boarded the ship. continua

News (EN)

The italian ports are open. Immediate disembarkment for the 47 shipwrecked on board of Sea-Watch 3

Press release from MEDITERRANEA Saving Humans

Urgentmaximum dissemination


THE ITALIAN PORTS ARE OPEN – THANKS TO SYRACUSE AND ITS MAYOR – IMMEDIATE DISEMBARKMENT FOR THE 47 SHIPWRECKED ON BOARD OF SEA-WATCH 3 continua