News (EN)

Mediterranea Civil Party in the Case Against Salvini

Today, Mr. Jannelli, the  judge presiding over the preliminary investigations for Palermo’s court in the case against the ex-minister of internal affairs, Matteo Salvini, for illegal confinement and misuse of authority,  has accepted the request to establish Mediterranea Saving Humans as a civil party in the case. We were informed of this by our legal team lawyers, Favio Lanfranca and Serena Romano. We thank them for their efforts and for the passion with which they have always supported the work of Mediterranea.

Today is an especially important moment for us: civil sea rescue, the defense of human rights and of the lives of women, men and children attempting to escape Lybian concentration camps and crying for help at sea are not for once the defendants. They will be, instead, part of the prosecution against a politician who has defacto made his government position a means of violation of principles of humanity, international laws and of the Italian Constitution. Our decision of joining the civil suit is our way to stand with the main injured parties in this trial, the people rescued by Open Arms who had to endure illegal confinement by those who were in power at the time. 

But, it is also a way to express solidarity with our brothers and sisters of the Open Arms crew, and with the crews of all the other search and rescue ships operating in the Mediterranean as part of the Civil Fleet who share with us this dutiful and extraordinary work. Today Mr Salvini is not the only defendant. The Italian and European governments are also on trial for their continued violation of the Hamburg Convention regarding the obligation of rescue at sea and the Geneva Convention on the prohibition of refugee refoulement. Standing in court today to accuse them are those who these (former) ministers have always criminalized but who are, instead, guilty of saving lives rather than letting them drown at sea.

Today we point the finger at those ministers and governments, and, on behalf of all those who have suffered for too long, we say: “We accuse you.”

News (EN)

Bosnia: this inhuman chess game must stop!

“RiVolti ai Balcani” requests the immediate and urgent intervention of European, international and local institutions in the Bihać area, and a long-term solution ensuring the protection of the fundamental human rights of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees.


“As a citizen of Bosnia Herzegovina I feel the right to insist and obtain from all political representatives at all levels the immediate assistance to and acceptable accommodation for all migrating people. And I also ask the international community that still has a protectorate in Bosnia Herzegovina to take responsibility for this situation. The crime against humanity that is taking place must stop immediately. People continue to freeze on the roads and in the mountains and the question is when will they start to die. Many citizens are helping individually as best they can, but in order to stop this catastrophe, a specific solution respecting the dignity and human rights of these people is necessary. Those who operate in public, local and international institutions, are responsible for this catastrophe. I do not want and do not accept that Bosnia Herzegovina could once again become a valley of mass graves, synonym of crimes, death and injustice”.


“RiVolti ai Balcani” collects and shares the appeals coming from individual citizens, activists and Bosnian volunteers, as well as from the regional network ‘Transbalkanska Solidarnost’, aimed at stopping the humanitarian catastrophe that is taking place especially in the Una Sana Canton where 3000 migrants, asylum seekers and refugees, are having to camp outdoors. Of these, 1500 in the temporary camp of Lipa, 30 km from Bihać, for whom neither local nor international authorities have wanted to find a solution.


For months now a growing number of international organisations, associations and volunteers have been denouncing the unsustainable living conditions of these people arriving from the Balkan migration route. First and foremost, the Lipa makeshift camp, not kitted out for the winter months, where water was delivered from a cistern and little energy was produced by generators. Like other transit camps in Bosnia managed by the Organization for Migration (IOM) BiH, but the construction or adjustment of which is headed by the Bosnian authorities.

Despite appeals by the Commissioner for human rights of the Council of Europe and UNHCR and the subsequent – useless – attempt by the Bosnian Council of Ministries to convince the Cantonal authorities to create suitable structures for the reception of migrants, IOM decided to close the camp and on 23rd December – the day foreseen for IOM’s exit – the camp was nearly totally destroyed by a fire.


It is snowing and the temperature has fallen below 0°C. Hundreds of people are blocked here, with one single meal a day distributed by the local Red Cross, other hundreds are scattered in the woods without assistance.

“RiVolti ai Balcani” adds its name to other public appeals announced in recent days. The one of 26th December, signed by UNHCR and IOM, together with DRC – Danish Refugee Council and Save the Children that work in BiH, in which local authorities are asked to provide immediate alternative accommodation solutions and the four organisations reiterate their availability to support the efforts of the local authorities and to organize necessary assistance. But also the appeal of the volunteers and activists of ‘No Name Kitchen’, ‘SOS Balkanroute’, Medical Volunteers International and ‘Blindspots’ addressed to the EU and its Member States.


The network “RiVolti ai Balcani” – composed of over 36 entities and individuals involved in the protection of human rights and the fundamental principles of the Italian Constitution and European and international norms – request that the European Union, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the EU delegation to the High Representative in Bosnia Herzegovina, the International Organization for Migration, the Council of Ministries of Bosnia Herzegovina, the authorities of the Una Sana Canton and the Bihać Municipality, the authorities of the country’s two Entities – the Federation and Republika Srpska:

  • find an immediate solution to the current humanitarian emergency in the Bihać area and Bosnia Herzegovina in general;
  • define long-term solutions equipping Bosnia Herzegovina with and effective refugee reception and protection system;
  • enact a humanitarian evacuation programme aimed at placing the migrants in all the countries of the European Union.


Sign the petition ‘This inhuman chess game must stop!’ at 𝗖𝗵𝗮𝗻𝗴𝗲.𝗼𝗿𝗴:



News (EN)


Yesterday in Brussels the democratic and socialist MEPs of the Commission for Civil Liberties and Internal Affairs (LIBE) asked the executive director of Frontex, Fabrice Leggeri, to resign.

The European agency that controls and monitors migratory movements at the EU borders is accused of illegal practices and violations of fundamental rights.

Several inquiries and testimonies from civil organizations have proven the involvement of the European Border Guard in the refoulement of migrants trying to arrive in the EU. Pushbacks are contrary to international agreements for the protection of refugees: no one can be deported or repatriated to a country where their safety is threatened. In yesterday’s session of the Commission for Civil Liberties and Internal Affairs, Fabrice Leggeri deliberately avoided answering questions on pushbacks. The allegations of the S&D parliamentary group refer, in particular, to the pushbacks that occurred at the Greek-Turkish maritime border in the Aegean Sea. However, Frontex’s crimes and omissions do not only take place there.

Thanks to the testimonies collected by various associations and NGOs, it has been possible to document dozens of pushback cases in the Central Mediterranean, in which Frontex, with its air assets, is directly involved. Coordinating the so-called “Libyan Coast Guard”, the European Border Defense Agency has contributed to the capture and deportation of 11,000 women, men and children to Libya since the beginning of the year – persons who had the right to seek asylum.

We ask for the resignation of Mr. Fabrice Leggeri.  We call for the establishment of a European Commission of Inquiry into criminal pushback activities occurring at the borders.  We call for the immediate cessation of the use of Frontex air and naval assets illegally employed to collaborate with the military forces of countries that do not respect human rights.

We ask that all evidence gathered by the Commission on Frontex illegal activities be forwarded to the International Criminal Court.

We will continue to denounce the crimes against humanity that Frontex commits against thousands of human beings at the gates of Europe.

News (EN)

#GivingTuesday: A special lunch break

Mediterranea Saving Humans celebrated World Gift Day with a live event on Facebook.  

The event was organized to collect donations for Mediterranea Saving Humans’ mission at sea. Many guests attended the event: Don Luigi Ciotti, Fiorella Mannoia, Valeria Solarino, Lodo and Carota from Lo Stato Sociale, Roy Paci & Picciotto, Dimartino, Shorty, Angel Galzerano and Alessandro Colpani. Only in the first few minutes of the event more than 370 people connected to the event.

An hour of music and testimonies to remember what is happening a few miles away from our coast, in that Mediterranean Sea that many cross every day to escape wars, torture and misery. It is essential for Mediterranea’s to be there, to witness what is happening and report the illegal pushbacks to Libya that continue to take place, and to save those who risk their lives trying to regain a lost dignity.

On World Giving Day, Facebook decided to double the first $2 million donated to registered charities through its platform and to add 10 percent to subsequent donations, until it reached a total of 7 mil USD. Mediterranea, thanks to those who decided to support it, raised more than 15.000 €. Many donors continued donating in the hours following the event as well.

However, we will have to wait until January 5th to find out how many of the donations received by Mediterranea Savng Humans via its American based chapter will be doubled.

These are fundamental resources that will finance the activities of the association. As Don Luigi Ciotti reminded during his speech, “saving humans is written in the logo of Mediterranea and it must become a sign of shared responsibility and commitment for all“.  

It is therefore important not to get used to what is happening in the Mediterranean, to those victims who, as Fiorella Mannoia underlined, “become just numbers; bodies and lives that no one cares about”.  Valeria Solarino added: “Solidarity and inclusion are not just values. They are the pillars of our civil society”.

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