News (EN)

Criminalization of Refugees: The dark Side of EU and UNHCR Policies in Tunisia

(Joint Statement)

UN agencies for protection or apparatuses for denial of rights

On Thursday, 14th of April,  18 refugees were arrested by security forces in the Tunisian capital of Tunis . The arrests took place after a group of 210 people expressed their frustration with the unresponsiveness of the UNHCR, and decided to transfer their protest to the agency’s headquarters located in Tunis.

The decision of moving the protest came after the group had a sit-in for over two months in front of the UNHCR’s office in Zarzis following the agency’s newly-adopted undeclared policy of closing many dorms sheltering refugees and asylum seekers and reducing the number of residents, and pushing many of them to leave in exchange of alternatives that do not live up to the minimum living standards and people on the move expectations due to “absence of financial support” as the agency declared earlier this year.

Photo credit: a protester who wishes to remain anonymous

While the group of 18 detained was later released on the 15th of April, many women, men, and children, are still being denied the right of movement within the land transport station of Zarzis. This incident stands as a standing proof of the inadequacy of the agency, whose only response to the migrants sitting-in for months in undignified conditions was through the suspension of its services and shutting all doors in their faces, while answering their demands in an inhumane and disrespectful way, stating “we are not a travelling agency”

The UN Agency announced the suspension of its services to refugees and asylum seekers for the 18th and the 19th of April 2022 in response to their protest. Refugees and asylum seekers want an enabling environment where their rights are respected. Regardless of their demands’ merits, the closing doors policy in the face of the ordeal of men, children and women seeking refuge and being left to live in the open for extended periods does not achieve “raising awareness of the suffering of refugees, defending their rights, and coordinating efforts to support them.”

The signatory actors:

  • stand in solidarity with the refugees struggling and protesting for their rights and dignity
  • hold the UNHCR responsible of the escalating situation caused by the absence of dialogue with refugees and asylum seekers and deepened by the closing doors policy in addition to resort to provocative statements
  • consider that the performance of the Agency in Tunisia, and in the governorate of Medenin in particular, such as the lack of appropriate assistance delivery to refugees and asylum seekers, slow files processing, and other shortcomings related to access to basic services such as health care, education, legal support, livelihoods, and financial, psychological, and social support, contributed to deepening the precarious situation of refugees and asylum seekers, especially women and children.
  • strongly condemn the  externalization policies by which the EU tries to keep refugees away from its borders, and where the UNHCR is more assiduous in protecting EU interests rather than refugees’ rights.

Watch The Med – Alarm Phone
Mission Lifeline
Iuventa Crew
Sea Watch e.V.
Refugee Rescue
Salvamento Maritimo Humanitario
Carovane Migranti
Melting Pot Europa
Rete Antirazzista Catanese
LasciateCIEntrare
Mediterranea Saving Humans
ASGI – Associazione per gli Studi Giuridici sull’immigrazione
Progetto 20k
Sorcio Rosso
Seebrücke – Schafft sichere Häfen
MigrEurope
Sea-Eye e. V.

الرابطة التونسية للدفاع عن حقوق الإنسان
المنتدى التونسي للحقوق الاقتصادية والاجتماعية
الجمعية التونسية للنساء الديمقراطيات
الجمعية التونسية للدفاع عن الحريات الفردية
مبادرة موجودين
اتحاد التونسيين من اجل العمل المواطني
فيدرالية التونسيين للمواطنة بين الضفتين
جمعية وشم
جمعية تفعيل الحق في الاختلاف
لا سلام دون عدالة
جمعية يقظة من أجل الديمقراطية والدولة المدنية
اللجنة من اجل الحريات واحترام حقوق الانسان بتونس
دمج الجمعية التونسية للعدالة و المساواة
الجمعية التونسية من أجل الحقوق و الحريات
جمعية ابصار
المنظمة التونسية لمناهضة التعذيب
جمعية تقاطع من أجل الحقوق والحريات
جمعية By Le7wem
الجمعية التونسية للانصاف والعدالة الاجتماعية والكرامة الإنسانية “باسطا”
الجمعية التونسية لمساندة الأقليات
جمعية المواطنة والتنمية والثقافات والهجرة بالضفتين
جمعية رؤية حرة
لجنة اليقظة من أجل الديمقراطية في تونس ببلجيكا
الجمعية التونسية للدفاع عن الحق في الصحة

News (EN)

#SafePassage 2 Together with The “Stop the War Now” Caravan and the Ukrainian Civil Society: Keeping a Corridor Of Aid And Support For Refugees Open

The full report of Mediterranea Saving Humans’ second mission to Lviv with the testimonies of people coming from war zones

Two weeks after the #SafePassage 1 mission, we decided to go back to Lviv, on the territory of Ukraine at war. We did so with the mission #SafePassage2 , which participated with a delegation of 6 vans and 25 activists from Milan, Brescia, Mogliano Veneto, Cesena, Naples and Sesto Fiorentino in the “Stop the war now” caravan, born from the initiative of several Italian pacifist associations, both Catholic and lay.

A total of over 70 vehicles loaded with around 35 tonnes of humanitarian aid met at dawn on 1 April in Gorizia, a border town that still bears the mark of the violence of war and of the borders that split the world between the hammer and the anvil of superpowers fighting each other, devastating bodies and lands.

After spending the night in Medyka, on the Polish-Ukrainian border, the caravan set off again in the direction of Lviv. Along the 30 kilometres separating the border crossing from the city, the increase in fortifications and checkpoints reflects a state of alert that has grown in recent weeks, as well as inside Lviv itself, where Ukrainian mourning flags have appeared at every doorway. In the days leading up to the mission, the war has arrived here too, not only through the more than 250,000 refugees who have arrived from the east of the country, but also through direct bombardments that have hit some strategic targets on the outskirts of the city. It is now clear to everyone that there are no “safe havens” and will not exist until the end of the Russian aggression.

 

Since the early hours of April 2, we have met with various local organisations to deliver medicines, medical and sanitary supplies, non perishable food, warm blankets and other humanitarian aid. In particular, our collaboration with the secular and religious civil society of Lviv is being strengthened with every mission, with the intention of improving the effectiveness and usefulness of everyone’s efforts. The first load was delivered to the Salesian Fathers of the Don Bosco Centre, who run one of the main reception centres for refugees and who are actively involved in the “relay” transmission of aid which arrives in Lviv to Kiev and the other areas most affected by the brutality of the war. They tell us of the urgency of not leaving alone the inhabitants and organisations still active in eastern Ukraine, who are in great need of support and have great difficulty in receiving it.

The second load went to the Cultural Centre/Volunteer Hub, one of the five largest centres for the collection of people and the distribution of basic goods. Like the first time, we were impressed by the number and the level of coordination of the many women and men who work tirelessly, engaged in loading and unloading, cooking and serving, pharmacy and medical assistance, distribution of clothes and blankets, legal assistance and orientation. They are all civilian volunteers, the director we interviewed proudly tells us. Together with a volunteer, he expresses the fear of abandonment: the aid arriving is gradually decreasing,’ he says, ‘but the need remains. The fear is that the war will become something so normal for Europeans that it will no longer make the news, beyond the sensationalist logic of the emergency to which our media are all too used. “We are alive here,” says a volunteer, “we continue to stay alive, that’s why it’s important that you don’t leave us alone, that’s why the presence in Ukraine of people from all over Europe and the world is so important”. Before saying goodbye, they insisted on offering us a hot tea to exchange a few more words and give us the updated list of the items the need: it is very important to have this list in a timely manner, because it is possible for the supply needs to change from one week to the next.

Afterwards, we regrouped at the Lviv Central Station, a hub for thousands and thousands of people arriving and trying to leave by the available trains and buses. At that very moment, convoys from Mariupol were entering the station, causing a stir among the volunteers of the first reception team: “People are arriving who are increasingly traumatised and in an increasingly precarious state of health”, explained a Red Cross volunteer we had already met during the first mission, “it is clear that the more time they are forced to spend in the bunkers, the more they develop kidney, lung and heart diseases. Humidity, cold and stress are often unbearable. Just a few metres away are the tents of World Kitchen, an NGO involved in emergency cooking, which churns out hot soup non-stop for the many people in the queue. Many refugees arrive here without any money, a condition that prevents them from even buying food, let alone a ticket to cross the border. #SafePassage also means a chance to escape the war regardless of your means.

On the second floor of the station, where there is normally an area dedicated to families with children, since February 24 the rooms have been dedicated only to refugees arriving by train. The volunteers offer a shelter, a safe space with specific medical and psychological support, a service created in collaboration with the Lviv regional government and coordinated by Halyna Bordun, head of the medical and psychological service for the Lviv administration. The management by public and credited medical institutions is organised in cooperation with the regional Psycho-neurological Hospital. These elements and support are not at all taken for granted in such a context. The support of the 120 volunteers, who take turns every day, also includes guiding people, giving them correct information on what to do and where to go once they leave the country. We know that for many people, running away also means exposing themselves to the risk of having to suffer various forms of gender-based violence, culminating in the abomination of disappearance and human trafficking, especially for sexual exploitation.

From the station, we marched for peace: with hundreds of people who had arrived with the #StopTheWarNow caravan, we walked to Lviv City Hall with white banners and messages of solidarity with the people affected by the conflict.

The ##StopTheWarNow peace caravan was the new tangible sign of a possible intervention of “interposition from below”: to stand for peace does not mean to stand by and watch, or worse to show “equidistance” between aggressors and aggressed, but to take our own bodies where they are needed; it means sending medicines and food, not weapons; helping people fleeing from war; promoting humanitarian corridors, financing and organising a dignified reception for refugees from all wars, not to commit resources to a mad race for rearmament.

Reinforcing the humanitarian corridor from below which we opened with the #SafePassage 1 mission, was the last and most important goal of Mediterranea Saving Humans’ second expedition to Ukraine.

Through the cooperation with the associations in Lviv and the other organisations of the Caravan we brought more than 300 people to Italy, 20 on Mediterranea’s vans.

In particular, three of the refugees came into contact with us thanks to the relationship established with some Ukrainian LGBTQIA+ associations, who explained to us the multiple forms of vulnerability and violence to which people from this community are exposed. We think of T women, who are considered ‘men’ who can be recruited at the border and who do not only risk ending up at the front, but also to be at the mercy of sexist violence in the barracks. They report cases of people being physically harassed by border controls, by soldiers who wanted to ‘verify’ their gender by hand, ignoring legal documents certifying their transition. They explain that many of them do not even try to run away , such is their fear of being identified when they leave their homes. More generally, LGBTQIA+ people are very familiar with the stratification of forms of violence on their bodies, to which war and a journey through militarised and bombed-out territories expose them even more than before.

We were very impressed by the very first testimonies of our new travelling companions, many in a delicate state of health. A. and O., who arrived in Lviv from Mariupol a few hours before leaving, have lost everything, and a phone call informed them that there was nothing left of their home. They are wearing very heavy jackets, but despite the heating in the van they cannot get the cold out of their bones after 18 days in an icy bunker. One woman suffers from heart disease, she is very nervous, afraid of not being able to travel, she knows she cannot stop. Only the presence of the doctor in our crew reassures her. K. arrives from Hostomel’, during the journey she feels like talking, she shows us the videos she recorded with her phone: her sister’s house reduced to rubble, the tins of food abandoned by Russian soldiers who used her flat as a base, the bodies burnt on the ground. With impressive coldness and lucidityshe tells us: the world needs to see what it means to live in a war. An unaccompanied minor has been temporarily entrusted to one of our volunteers by his parents, in the hope of giving him a chance at a dignified life. Arriving alone in Lviv, he is relieved to meet us and make friends with other young people in the caravan.

Among the people brought across the border is Volodymir, an Italian volunteer of Mediterranea of Ukrainian origin and with double nationality. Volodymir has been living in Italy for over 30 years, where he has a wife and two minor children in his care. A few days before the beginning of the war, he went to Ukraine to bury his father, who had just died. After the funeral, his double passport obliged him to stay in the country, as he was considered Ukrainian by the country’s government, which does not recognise dual citizenship and, therefore, he could potentially be enlisted as a 56-year-old male. Volodimir also risked arrest for trying to assert his right to leave the country and his desire not to take up arms: he risked being considered a deserter for all intents and purposes. The caravan of Mediterranea Saving Humans was blocked for 24 hours at the border – between Sunday 3 and Monday 4 April – trapped in an institutional stalemate that was only resolved thanks to the tenacity of our volunteers and the effective work of the Italian and Ukrainian diplomats, who allowed Volodymir to cross into Polish territory with us in the early afternoon of April 4. We are and will always be on the side of those who reject war, whether they are Italian, Ukrainian, Russian or from any nation.

Many of the people we offered a lift to had relatives ready to take them in, others did not. As Mediterranea Saving Humans we have found a worthy solution for all, relying on the solidarity networks from below that in several Italian cities are activating to guarantee accommodation, but also help with bureaucracy, psychological support, linguistic mediation and sociality, in the face of the disarming lack of institutional intervention.

#Safepassage 2 was a further step in the construction of a continuous intervention, along and beyond the borders of the European Union, in war territory. Mediterranea has already started planning the next mission.

To support our missions contribute to our crowdfunding campaign:

https://www.produzionidalbasso.com/project/missione-safe-passage-in-ucraina/

News (EN)

#Mission11: Safeguarding Human Life, Protecting And Welcoming Those Who Flee: The Mare Jonio Departing From Mazara Del Vallo

Today at 13:40 the ship MARE JONIO set sail from the Sicilian port of Mazara del Vallo for the eleventh observation, monitoring, search and rescue mission of MEDITERRANEA Saving Humans.

In the next 24 hours the ship will reach the SAR area assigned to Libya in the Central Mediterranean, where Sea Watch 3 has already been sailing for the past few days. According to official data provided by the IOM, the United Nations migration organisation, in this stretch of sea, three hundred eighteen people have already lost their lives in the first three months of 2022 alone. From experience and from the cases of ‘ghost shipwrecks’ reported since the beginning of the year, we unfortunately know that there are many more dead and missing. Only a week ago, Alarm Phone, the 24-hour hotline run by a network of African and European activists, reported the umpteenth disappearance of a rubber boat with more than a hundred people on board that had left the Libyan coast east of Tripoli. Only four survivors of this shipwreck, whose dynamics are still not clear, partly because the survivors, recovered at sea by the merchant ship Alegra 1, flying the Panamanian flag, were handed over to Libyan patrol boats and deported back to the country from which they were trying to flee.

Unfortunately, they were not the only case: since the beginning of the year, at least 3,456 women, men and children have been captured at sea by the so-called Libyan Coast Guard and other militias, financed and supported by the Italian State and other EU Member States, and often informed and coordinated by the institutions of these countries. The systematic violation of people’s fundamental rights at the continental borders was documented yesterday by the Council of Europe, in a 64-page report drafted by Commissioner Dunja Mijatovic. The Council of Europe denounces how “the warm and welcoming response given to 4 million fleeing Ukrainians is in contrast to the violations committed against refugees, asylum seekers and migrants from other parts of the world.” Reporting on data collected by the Danish Refugee Council, Mijatovic counts “30,309 incidents of refoulement between December 2019 and September 2021, often with excessive use of force” along the European Union’s land and sea borders.

Precisely in the face of these inhumane policies, MEDITERRANEA Saving Humans – whose activists have just returned from the second #SafePassage mission to Ukraine, accompanying to Italy over 200 vulnerable refugees without any discrimination on the basis of nationality and origin – returns again to the sea to safeguard human life and for the reception in Europe of those who are equally fleeing, via Libya, from wars, ecological disasters, hunger and misery, persecution and violence. Mission 11 of the ship MARE JONIO, the only asset of the European “civili fleet” flying the Italian flag, is the second departure of 2022: last January we already rescued 214 women, men and children who were on board two boats in distress. Leading the mission at sea, which will have to contend with particularly unstable weather conditions, are Head of Mission Luca Casarini, commander Massimiliano Napolitano, first officer Davide Dinicola and a team that includes rescuers Iason Apostolopoulos and Matteo Fogli and on-board doctor Giovanni Dal Vecchio for a total crew of eleven.

 

News (EN)

Ukrainian Captain Saves 32 People from Dying in Mediterranean Sea

German shipowner of the KARINA calls SEA-EYE 4 for help off Libya

Press release by Sea-Eye e.V.

 

On Monday afternoon, March 28, 2022, the crew of the merchant ship KARINA, under the command of the Ukrainian captain Vasyl Maksymenko, saved 32 people who were fleeing from drowning in international waters off Libya. The merchant ship of the North German KLINGENBERG Bereederungs- & Befrachtungs GmbH & Co. KG, a shipping company from Ellerbek, was on its way from Malta to Benghazi when it was made aware of the distress call at sea by the aid organization Alarm Phone. “The boat was in grave danger of capsizing. The people aboard wouldn’t have survived that. The waves had already reached four meters since their departure. They would not have been able to get anywhere on their own,” says Vasyl Maksymenko, captain of the KARINA.

At that time, the SEA-EYE 4 was around 50 hours away from the emergency and was unable to provide any immediate assistance. However, the rescue ship and its operations management, together with numerous state and other non-state actors, were involved in the correspondence on the distress at sea. Due to the dramatic exchange of information on the case, the SEA-EYE 4 contacted the merchant ship KARINA and offered support. At the same time, SEA-EYE 4’s operations management contacted the owner of the KARINA to signal their willingness to help.

Photo Credit: Sea-Eye

Shipowner Thies Klingenberg was immediately aware of the difficult situation. “It’s not the first time that we’ve rescued people from the Mediterranean Sea. However, our ships are not suitable for the catering and medical treatment of shipwrecked persons,” says Klingenberg. On Monday afternoon, the shipping company and Captain Maksymenko asked the SEA-EYE 4 for help. “The flag state of KARINA, Antigua and Barbuda, has signed the Geneva Refugee Convention,” wrote Captain Maksymenko to SEA-EYE 4. The rescued people must be taken to a place of safety. “A safe place is a place where the lives of survivors are not threatened and where their basic human needs can be met. The protection of their basic rights must be taken into account. For refugees, this means that they must not be forced back into a war zone. This prohibits bringing people who’re fleeing back to Libya!” Maksymenko continues.

The KARINA and the SEA-EYE 4 agreed on a rendezvous and met on Tuesday afternoon, around 55 nautical miles from the Libyan coast. A team of doctors and the head of mission of SEA-EYE 4 boarded the KARINA to assess the situation. According to their own statements, the fleeing people stayed on their wooden boat for at least three days. Therefore, some of the rescued people are currently being treated for hypothermia and dehydration in the ship’s sick bay. The captains of both ships assessed the situation and concluded that the SEA-EYE 4 is the more suitable and safer vessel for the 32 survivors. Hence, Sea-Eye operations management then agreed to take the rescued people aboard.

“We have enough provisions, accommodation and an onboard hospital to safely take aboard such a number of people for a short period of time,” says Gorden Isler, Chairman of Sea-Eye e. V. The SEA-EYE 4 has a so-called Rescue Notation from its classification society, and the Italian Coast Guard confirmed the SEA-EYE 4’s suitability for short-term care for up to 200 people after technical adjustments in the summer of 2021, if a safe port can be reached in a timely manner to disembark survivors.

The SEA-EYE 4 will be heading for Malta in the next few hours. “Malta is the closest EU member state. We will ask for a disembarkation port there,” says Isler. However, Malta has been closing its ports for the disembarkation of people rescued from distress for several years. The last time that a Sea-Eye ship was allowed to bring rescued people to safety in Malta was in the summer of 2019. Since then, Maltese policy towards people fleeing has become increasingly defensive.

“We will now see whether the Geneva Convention on Refugees is just as important to Malta as it was to the Ukrainian Captain Maksymenko, who prevented a push-back to a war zone in violation of international law,” Isler continues.

 

Link to the original text: https://sea-eye.org/en/ukrainian-captain-saves-32-people-from-dying-in-mediterranean-sea/

Ukrainian Captain Saves 32 People from Dying in Mediterranean Sea

News (EN)

El Hiblu 3 case shows everything that is wrong in how Europe treats migrants

Last March 26th and 27th, an international conference of the campaign for liberation of the “El Hiblu Three” was held in Valletta. It was attended by people directly involved in the case, representatives of foreign communities living in Malta, academics and intellectuals from all over Europe, religious representatives and of local and international NGOs, civil fleet activists, including Sea Watch, Louise Michel and MEDITERRANEA.
It was an important opportunity to resume the legal case in which three young migrants (two of them minors at the time) are accused of very serious crimes, with the sole guilt of having avoided deportation to Libya for themselves and for over a hundred other survivors who had been rescued by the Turkish-flagged merchant ship.
Their situation is unfortunately exemplary of the countless violations of international law, of people’s fundamental rights, and of the most profound principles of human coexistence, by EU Member States and institutions, which are committed daily in the Central Mediterranean.
In particular, as well as Italy, Malta represents, due to its geographical position and the role played by its Authorities in recent years in the humanitarian crisis at sea, one of the crucial places where to intervene in the battle for freedom of movement and respect for the rights and dignity of every single person.
This is why MEDITERRANEAN Saving Humans has joined the #FreeElHiblu3 campaign from the beginning and will continue to follow it (more information at: https://elhiblu3.info ).
In the meantime, we are pleased to publish here the article that the Times of Malta, the island’s authoritative independent newspaper, dedicated to the International Conference on 27 March.
Gardjola Gardens in Senglea: On one side the harbour entrance, on the other where the El Hiblu 1 was docked after disembarking the 108 rescued people on March, 28 2019. Photo: El Hiblu 3 campaign

The case of three youths charged with terrorism exposes all that is wrong with how Europe treats migrants of colour, a conference on migration heard on Saturday. “The case of the El Hiblu three epitomises all that is wrong about the ways in which black and brown migrants are treated in Europe: an upside-down world in which brave mediators are called pirates, while state authorities engage in acts of piracy at sea,” Lorenzo Pezzani, co-director of Border Forensics said. “However, it is also a powerful symbol of migrant resistance in the face of violent borders. The Free El Hiblu 3 campaign is exemplary in foregrounding their bravery and allowing us to hear their powerful voices,” he added.

Pezzani forms part of an international alliance made up of human rights advocates, scholars and religious leaders who are demanding freedom for Kader, Amara and Abdallah. Members of this international commission joined local NGOs Moviment Graffitti, aditus, Integra, Kopin and JRS for a two-day conference organised by the Free the ElHiblu Three campaign. Neil Falzon, director of aditus, told the conference that three years since the three youths were accused of terrorism, they remained in tortuous legal limbo.

“They could live the rest of their lives in prison or they could not. We remain hopeful, in what is a dark and extremely complex case,” he said. The three youths themselves also addressed the conference, recalling the moment they were separated from a group of people who had left Libya in seek of better prospects.

‘Constant death threat’

Life in Libya for Amara was characterised by the constant threat of death, turning his dream for a better life into a nightmare.

He recalled how after managing to flee the north African country because he had no other option, he was rescued when facing death again – this time at sea.

However, those who fished him out of a sinking dinghy were going to return him to Libya, and it was only after volunteering to mediate between the crew and the desperate asylum seekers, that their rescuers took them to Malta, a safe port.

‘They separated us after 10 days’

Fellow youth Abdallah noted that once in Malta, the three were separated from the rest and detained in prison. “Despite this, I remained strong because I was with my friends. But after 10 days they separated us. “I was left in prison, all alone. It was very difficult to be completely alone. For months I wondered how I would ever get out of there. “One day I got a letter from the El Hiblu 3 campaign telling me to stay strong, that we were heroes and that they were going to support us. I regained the hope I had lost,” he recalled.

‘I was 16. I lost hope. I couldn’t sleep’

Kader explained that together with Amara, he had been separated from Abdallah and taken to a prison for minors. He recalled his initial state of confusion and sense of helplessness: “We had arrived with at least 100 other people, but they separated the three of us. I couldn’t understand why, as we had done nothing wrong. When I arrived in prison, I was treated in a way I never expected to be treated in Europe. I was 16. I lost hope. I couldn’t sleep.”

Once out of prison after several months, he was told he could not go to school and had to find a job. He eventually found a job in construction – a completely new sector for him – but unfortunately fell from a construction site and broke his leg. Apart from not being paid for his work, he is still recovering from the injuries, making his retaining of a stable job even more challenging, considering he also has to regularly go to hospital and sign the bail book at the police station.

What is the El Hiblu case?

The case goes back to March of 2019, when the merchant vessel ElHiblu rescued 108 people from a rubber boat. Some migrants remained on the dinghy as they feared they would be pushed back to Libya. They disappeared and are presumed dead.

ElHiblu was instructed to take the people aboard to Libya, an unsafe port. but on March 28, the vessel entered Malta. The Armed Forces of Malta boarded the ship as it approached local waters, following reports that migrants had seized control of the vessel and forced it to head to Europe. The young men – then aged 15, 16 and 19 – were arrested and charged with crimes amounting to terrorist activity. They have pleaded not guilty.

Amnesty International has meanwhile called for the charges to be dropped and flagged the case in its annual Write for Rights campaign, which urges people to write letters, sign petitions and organise events demanding justice for those who have been imprisoned, attacked or disappeared.

News (EN)

Mission #SafePassage in Ukraine: full report from the first mission

9 TONNES OF HUMANITARIAN AID DELIVERED TO LVIV.
177 WOMEN, CHILDREN AND MEN BROUGHT TO SAFETY IN ITALY.

 

The first Mission “Safe Passage in Ukraine” – promoted by MEDITERRANEA Saving Humans and supported by CNA, Gesco Group, Fiom, Fiom Lazio, Archdiocese of Bologna, Municipality of Bologna, Casetta Rossa of Rome, il Cantiere, and the Spazio di Mutuo Soccorso of Milan, Officina 31021 of Mogliano, Veneto – left Naples and Bologna on Wednesday, March 16th, and arrived at the border between Poland and Ukraine the following day. The first activity carried out by our caravan was at the refugee centre in Przemysl, where part of the humanitarian aid destined for the people who had crossed the border was unloaded, and where the mission was divided into two parts. The first part, led by Head of Mission, Laura Marmorale, remained in the refugee centres on the border, and the second part, led by Beppe Caccia, continued to the Ukrainian city of Lviv.

 

 

On the Polish-Ukrainian border, the mission worked in the refugee centres: first in Przemysl and, then, in Korczowa, where it stayed until Sunday,  March 20th. Thanks to the essential help of our Ukrainian cultural mediators and our medical staff, we were able to bring first aid to the people fleeing the war. Many of them were wounded during the bombings, while others had been suffering for a long time from serious illness which had gone untreated due to the ongoing conflict. They included a woman with breast cancer, other women with multiple injuries, and a young man with psychiatric issues. In the Korczowa refugee centre, we found dozens of voluntary organisations from all over Europe and Israel, with whom we actively cooperated both in welcoming the refugees, organising a safe journey to Italy, and in running the centre. Overall, the caravan brought about 100 people back to Italy from the centres in Przemysl and Korczowa, in addition to those who were brought to Italy by the vans that entered Lviv and by another bus that arrived from Veneto to accompany the caravan.

A total of 177 people traveled to a place of safety thanks to our mission. Of these, the vast majority were women and children. A total of seven different nationalities were rescued: Ukrainians, Uzbeks, Georgians, Russians, Italians, Ecuadorians, and Colombians (the latter were students at the University of Dnipro). One of the objectives of the caravan was to provide safe entry routes to the borders of the European Union for all people fleeing war, without any kind of discrimination on the basis of nationality or origin, and we succeeded. Of the people who arrived in Italy, 91 arrived in Naples, where they underwent medical screening and are, now, hosted by families thanks to the help of Mediterranea volunteers and the support of the CNA and the Gesco group, which have been engaged in mediation between the refugees and the families willing to host them. Two women were hospitalised at the Ospedale del Mare in Naples. Others were entrusted to the Association “Amici Bambini di Chernobyl” of Monselice (in the province of Padua), which mediated with the families willing to receive the refugees. Others reached their families directly from Bologna, where they were transported by the caravan buses.

 

From the refugee centres we visited, we heard the alarm of Polish volunteers and the authorities over speculation of the skin color of the people fleeing the country. The first phenomenon is that of “paid passage”, whereby people fleeing war are asked for hundreds of euros per person for a car transfer. This is a horrible phenomenon of speculation, carried out by people from different countries who travel to the border in rented vehicles. Many people, who have arrived without money both at the border and in Lviv, cannot afford a paid trip. “Safe passage in Ukraina” gave 177 people the opportunity to arrive to a safe place free of charge.

The second phenomenon is the disappearance of young women from refugee centres. Strict controls on people leaving the centres have been made necessary precisely because of the disappearance of people, mainly young women, whose traces were lost after they had been registered. Mediterranea Saving Humans was accepted as an Italian actor in the centres of Korczowa and Przemysl, where it operated with the utmost transparency, receiving, especially in Korczowa, the cooperation and appreciation of the other organisations present. We share the same alarm regarding the speculation of the skin color of those fleeing the bombings and regarding the dangers of human trafficking on the Polish-Ukrainian border.

Passing through several border controls and checkpoints, our caravan entered Lviv in the early afternoon of Friday, March 18th. We arrived just a few hours after the Russian missile attack hit the city’s airport, damaging hangars and infrastructure.

 

With our six vans, we transported and distributed about 9 tonnes of humanitarian aid, including: medicines and medical devices, food, basic necessities, warm clothes, and blankets. Part of this aid, collected by the Belarusian association in Bologna and Emilia-Romagna, was delivered to a local association that helps children with Down’s syndrome. Clothes and food were mostly unloaded at the Salesian Fathers of Don Bosco family home in Lviv, which is primarily committed to supporting refugees and has given us hospitality during our stay. Medical equipment and medicines were taken directly to the “Veterans” Hospital in the suburb of Vynnyky, a facility reserved for the hospitalisation of wounded civilians and soldiers from war zones. 200 patients were already being treated for gunshot wounds, severe and very severe burns, and crush injuries as a result of the Russian bombing of cities in the east and south of the country.

Just as we were meeting the director of the hospital, the first of a long series of air raid alarms sounded. We, along with the doctors and patients, had to go to the hospital’s underground shelters in search of safety. This was an unprecedented situation for Lviv, signaling that even the westernmost regions of Ukraine have become a potential target of Putin’s aggression and the Russian forces’ missile attacks.

During the 48 hours we spent in Lviv, from Friday to Sunday,  Detjon Begaj, the Mayor of Bologna mission’s town councilor and envoy, and Gianluca Peciola, from the region of Lazio, joined us in meeting with Regional Authorities and the Municipality’s Head of International Relations. These important meetings served to establish relations between these cities and to clarify the primary needs of an urban area of about 700 thousand inhabitants that found itself having to manage an influx of over 200 thousand refugees in the period of three weeks. Symbolically, thanks to Mediterranea’s convoy, Councillor Begaj was then able to transport to Italy the children’s books destined for the Ukrainian stand at the Bologna Book Fair that is currently underway.

Finally, on Sunday, March 20th, our caravan of six vans left for the Polish border. About 40 refugees occupied the last available seats. They, like all those who traveled on board the buses that left the refugees centres, arrived at their destination, by the following morning of Tuesday, March 22nd, and were  welcomed in various Italian cities: from Turin to Bologna, from Padua to Naples, from Rome to Palermo.

 

In spite of the terrible war situation and the subsequent feeling that all our efforts are just a drop in the ocean, the objectives that our Mission had set for itself were achieved: delivering humanitarian aid to Ukraine; providing a safe route for refugees to enter Europe, without any discrimination, and their dignified reception in Italy; and, building relationships with the Ukrainian civil society in order to create future initiatives.

While our ship Mare Jonio is ready to set sail for Mission #11 of monitoring and rescue in the Central Mediterranean, we can safely say that the one that ended last week will be only the first of the #SafePassage missions on land. MEDITERRANEAN Saving Humans activists are, in fact, preparing to participate, together with a wide range of Catholic and lay pacifist associations, in the “STOP THE WAR NOW” delegation that will travel to Ukraine from March 31st to April 2nd. This is our way of being against war and always putting the protection of people first.

Donate to support our missions:

https://www.produzionidalbasso.com/project/missione-safe-passage-in-ucraina/

 

News (EN)

MEDreport February 2022

curated by Silvia Decina, Sara Tosoni, Enrico Trevisol and Gabriele Suriano

Forced to flee across the Mediterranean, 2,439 people managed to arrive in Italy in February. The number is lower compared with the arrivals of the previous month: 3,035. 299 unaccompanied minors were among those who arrived in the first month of the year.
In February, there were over 2,300 push-backs by the so-called Libyan Coast Guard, including 228 women and 77 minors. Yet another violation of the principle of non-refoulement that continue to happen day after day.
Yet another violation that today, however, find even less light in the face of the horror of the Russian invasionof Ukraine, the darkest hour in the West.

The spectacle of the violence of weapons in an everyday life where people still die in the waves can only be bleak.

Qui il report completo del mese di febbraio 2022 (link per il download):
These data are based on information provided by the Ministry of the Interior’s Department of Civil Liberties and Immigration.
These data refer to landing events recorded by 8:00 a.m. on February 28, 2022.
News (EN)

Mission #SafePassage – Mediterranea for Ukraine

Mediterranea Saving Humans has been operating monitoring, search and rescue missions to protect human rights in the Central Mediterranean since 2018. On 21th March, with our ship Mare Jonio, we will set sail on our Mission #11.

In the meantime, we cannot remain indifferent to the ongoing war and its terrifying effects in Central Europe. We stand shoulder to shoulder with the civilian population in Ukraine, their attempt to resist, but also to save themselves from the consequences of an unjustifiable military aggression.

We have decided not to stand idle in front of hundreds of thousands of people who are fleeing the war. Our raison d’être is the preservation of human life and support for refugees, on shore and at sea.

For us, resisting, defecting and disobeying the war means taking concrete action to secure the refugees – all refugees without shameful ‘ethnic’, national or origin distinctions – who are trying to reach the borders with Poland, Slovakia, Moldova and Romania to find refuge in Europe.

We are organising a convoy of well-equipped buses and vans, with doctors and cultural mediators, to arrive at the Polish-Ukrainian border, to deliver humanitarian aid and to bring those fleeing the war back to Italy.

We want to arrive at the borders in order to offer a safe channel of entry into the European Union, but also to show concrete grassroots solidarity with those on the Ukrainian side of the border who still cannot leave the country.

We will leave from various Italian cities including Naples, Rome, Bologna, Venice and Milan, with the collaboration of those who have decided to support the Safe Passage operation and also to have an active participation in this Mission: the Ges.Co. Consortium of social cooperatives, the CNA Confederazione Nazionale degli Artigiani of Naples, the “Libera” section of Portici, “Un Ponte per” of Naples, the Municipality of Bologna, the Archdiocese of Bologna, the Casetta Rossa space in Rome, Officina 31021 of Mogliano Veneto, Il Cantiere and the Spazio di Mutuo Soccorso of Milan and many others who are joining in these hours, who, together with local Mediterranea groups, are collecting humanitarian aid and intervening with their volunteers.

We will then leave in the next few days in the direction of Ukraine and, a few days later, the Mare Jonio ship will take to the sea again to head off the coast of Libya. We need all the support of those who believe that war is always a horror, of those who think that the real victims of conflicts are the people who see their lives destroyed.

We ask you to support the crowdfunding campaign to finance our Missions.
Now, as always and even more than before, is time to act.

Thank you!

Mediterranea Saving Humans

Support our crowdfunding campaign: https://www.produzionidalbasso.com/project/missione-safe-passage-in-ucraina/

 

News (EN)

MEDITERRANEA FOR PEACE

Against war without equidistance

We are not equidistant from this war. We stand with the Ukrainian civilian population. With the millions of defenceless children, women and men who are currently being bombed by Putin.

War against civilians is the form of all contemporary wars. To fuel in any way its continuation, its becoming an endless slaughter, to the risk of nuclear holocaust, is a folly and a responsibility that those who fan the flames of rearmament will bear, while the Ukrainian people are meat for the slaughter.

 

On resistance to the aggressors

There is the Ukrainian resistance, for which we have the utmost respect. It is the resistance that has taken a thousand different forms, the resistance of a people who will not give in to the unjustifiable aggression of a despot who has invaded their land with a devastating army and weapons. An autocrat whom, however, Europe, the “cradle of democracy”, has pampered and enriched for the past twenty years.  We say it again: there can be no equidistance for us in this war. Those who attack and invade with tanks and launch missiles and cluster bombs on cities, houses, universities and hospitals, cannot have any justification. This can never be justified.

 

On crimes against humanity and the right to defend oneself

In the staggering contest between the criminals threatening this planet, Putin is certainly at the top. Obviously, the list of instigators and perpetrators of crimes against humanity is long and transversal: from those who bomb children in Yemen with bombs supplied by our country, to those who finance Libyan lagers, where women are raped and defenceless human beings tortured and killed. But shame cannot be balanced out with other shames.

For us, the people in Ukraine and in every part of the world who suffer because of all these criminals, all those who are helpless in the face of the shame and defeat of wars, are brothers and sisters. Those who try to defend themselves as best they can, to prevent the logic of force and violence from getting the better of every human right, of every possible coexistence, have the right to do so. Just as they have the right to flee, to desert, to save themselves and their children, hundreds of thousands of people who in these hours are trying not to become targets or hostages and to reach the European borders. The attacked’s legitimate right to resistance cannot become an excuse for European governments, until yesterday cowardly and silent in the face of Putin’s crimes, and busy doing business with his oligarchs, to wash their consciences, risking contributing to a further escalation of the war.

 

Fighting for peace. Resisting, defecting, disobeying

Fighting for peace, against war, cannot mean sending weapons without taking courageous political and diplomatic initiatives: European governments must work for an immediate ceasefire, and build the conditions for high-level negotiations, involving all the players in the field, offering them guarantees for a new order of possible coexistence, with mutual respect, in a security framework that excludes the use of force.  Resisting, defecting and disobeying the war and its logic is today the most difficult battle, but also the only one that can represent a hope for the future of our imperfect democracies, including the Ukrainian one. The birth of a new Europe, of a new world, cannot be based on yet another bloodbath: that is a road already traveled and that road has led us here, back to the edge of an abyss. The big arms manufacturers and traders, who are doing huge business at the moment while people are dying, should not have the power to decide the policies of contemporary societies, just as the holders of energy monopolies, who have no scruples in the face of any dictatorship or crime anywhere on the planet, should not.

Resisting, defecting and disobeying for us means supporting every effort to have the weapons laid down immediately: encouraging negotiations and mediation, fighting so that our governments are committed to seeking a political and geopolitical solution that will now prevent the carnage that has been announced. The “transversal party of war” is aiming at this carnage, whose cultural model is still pursuing the tragic illusion of military deterrence as the only system of balance and cohabitation in Europe and across the planet. Resisting, defecting and disobeying for us means supporting the opposition and dissent to the war, which thousands and thousands of people are carrying out in Russia, with courage and facing fearful consequences.

Resisting, defecting and disobeying means implementing concrete actions that we are working on, in order to facilitate the escape from the war of refugees – all refugees without shameful ethnic or national distinctions – who try to reach the borders with Poland and Romania. Overcoming the infamous Dublin Regulations must become established practice whereby Europe welcomes all people who arrive at its borders fleeing discrimination and persecution, economic and environmental disasters, violence and war.

Resisting, defecting and disobeying for us means continuing and relaunching the practice of civilian rescue at sea in the central Mediterranean, to help people trying to escape from Libyan lagers who, like all women, men and children fleeing discrimination and violence, persecution and war, risk being forgotten in the current scenario.

 

Against the “realpolitik” of inhumanity

They say we live in a world of dreams and utopias, because we do not take the positions of states and military headquarters, because we do not propose solutions that follow the patterns of Realpolitik. But it is precisely this inhuman, alleged ‘political realism’ that has brought us to this point. So we say that it is better to pursue dreams and utopias than to cultivate nightmares and not to listen to any prophecy. We listen and stand by Pope Francis, in the practice of resistance, desertion and disobedience to war. We dream of a Europe that finally adopts a common foreign and defence policy, to pursue the construction of a transnational space that is not only economic, but also social and political, projected towards the Euro-Asian and Euro-Mediterranean dimension, capable of developing policies of peace and disarmament, starting with nuclear disarmament, solidarity and cooperation between peoples, in respect and affirmation of the fundamental rights of people.

We owe it to our brothers and sisters who are currently suffering in Ukraine.

The Board of Directors of MEDITERRANEAN Saving Humans  

4th March 2022 – First week of war

News (EN)

MEDReport January 2022

curated by Silvia Decina, Sara Tosoni, Enrico Trevisol and Gabriele Suriano

Forced to flee across the Mediterranean, 3,035 people managed to arrive in Italy in January. This number is much higher compared to previous years’ totals: 1,039 arrivals in January 2021 and 1,342 arrivals in January 2020. 195 unaccompanied minors were among those who arrived in the first month of the year. There were also dozens of victims in the first days of this year: 35 confirmed deaths, not counting the number of people on at least 2 missing ghost boats that likely sank.

Almost daily, the Libyan Red Crescent identified many lifeless bodies on the east coast of Tripoli. These numbers confirm that the central Mediterranean is the most dangerous route for people trying to reach Europe from Africa again this year. All these people are victims of indifference as are the 7 nameless people who died in the cold aboard a fragile 2-story boat bound for Lampedusa the last week of the month on the night between Monday and Tuesday. Alarm Phone had launched an SOS to Italian and Maltese authorities for that boat.

Here the full report of January 2022 (download link):
These data are compiled from information provided by the Department of Civil Liberties and Immigration of the Ministry of the Interior. The data refers to landing events detected by 8:00 a.m. on January 31, 2022.