News (EN)

MEDreport April 2022

curated by the MEDreport editorial team

In April, the number of people who found themselves forced to flee, to cross the Mediterranean and who managed to arrive in Italy was 1,296.
A number, this, lower when compared with the arrivals of the previous month: 2,439 had arrived.
Among the people who arrived in this second month of the year there are 348 unaccompanied minors.

The Mediterranean Sea continues to be a place where more and more people, fleeing wars and persecutions, meet death.

In the first fourteen days of March, over seventy people drowned off the coast of Libya. “I am shocked – said Sara Msehli, spokesperson for the UN agency for migration – by the continuing loss of life in the central Mediterranean and by the lack of action to tackle this ongoing tragedy.

Continuous daily death reports: on 12 March a fragile boat carrying 25 people capsized near the Libyan coast of Tobruk. IOM continues to call for “concrete action to reduce the loss of life on the Central Mediterranean route through search and rescue activities and a safe landing mechanism in accordance with international law”.

More than half of the deaths this year were recorded near the Libyan coast. “Every report – explains Federico Soda, head of mission IOM Libya – of missing migrants represents a family in mourning in search of answers about their loved ones”.

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

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

Borders of Solidarity – Travelogue from Romania, Moldova and Ukraine

A few days after Russian tanks entered Ukraine, Mediterranea Berlin set out for Eastern Europe to see with our own eyes the situation of migrants and refugees fleeing the bombs.

Below, find the results of the research in Romania, Moldova and Ukraine from 8th of March to 3rd of April 2022.

ROMANIA
1.0 BoS - Romania Eng

MOLDAVIA
1.1 BoS - Moldova Eng

UKRAINE
1.2 BoS - Odessa Eng

News (EN)

#SAFEPASSAGE MISSION ARRIVED IN KIEV: THE FIRST HUMANITARIAN AID CARAVAN FOLLOWING THE AIR STRIKES

MEDITERRANEA SAVING HUMANS’ Safe Passage Mission has just arrived in Kiev. It is the Italian civil society’s first convoy to arrive in the capital with humanitarian aid for the Ukrainian people following Thursday night’s missile attack.

Volunteers from the rescue organization, whose mission is to protect life and human rights both at sea and on land, immediately began unloading more than 5.5 tonnes of essential medicines, food, and other basic necessities collected by the city of Bologna for its twin city, Kharkiv.

The convoy consisted of six vans: four from Rome, one from Milan, and one from the region of Veneto. “We traveled through the suburbs of Bucharest and Iprin which were devastated by the Russian assault. Upon entering Kiev, we found a surreal scene. Several buildings were damaged by the bombings, but there was also a strong desire to resist the attacks and return to  normal city life,” Sara Alawia, the spokesperson for the MEDITERRANEA mission, tells us. She continues her account, “The trip was difficult. We left Lviv at dawn and took a route along secondary roads, through bombed out bridges and on dirt roads in the woods. We didn’t let anyone outside  the convoy know our itinerary for fear we would become a high-value target.”

Sara Alawia adds, “We hope that the aid collected by the city of Bologna, which we are delivering directly into the hands of the administration of Kharkiv, can be a small contribution to relieving the suffering of that city which is now half-destroyed by the bombings that are still underway today.”

“In the upcoming days, we will meet with civil and religious authorities and with Ukrainian associations committed to upholding human and civil rights. And, above all,” the mission spokesperson concludes,”we will bring refugees, the most vulnerable people,  back to Italy with us, without any discrimination. Because, our message of peace is real and concrete solidarity with the population that is under attack.”

News (EN)

Lampedusa as an Island of Peace

Safety and Rescue, yes! Hot-spot and militarization, no!

We are impressed by the initiative of the mayor of Lampedusa and Linosa, Totò Martello, who wants to bring the islands into a “Journey for Peace” – a visionary process for humanity, inviting and including also all civil actors at sea.

We believe in Lampedusa as an “island that saves”, as a natural landing place for thousands of women, men and children crossing the sea, while migrating or fleeing from inhuman conditions. But we have to distinguish and to separate two important issues: rescuing people does not mean to keep humans in camps or hot-spots. As we can see around the treatment of refugees from Ukraine, it is a possible political decision to let people freely move all over Europe, where they have relatives and friends or other contacts that allow them to be welcomed and to live in the best way.

We see how horrible the opposite situation can be, as on the Greek islands like Lesvos or Samos, where people on the move are blocked or even detained in huge camps for months or years, and where a situation of permanent crisis is politically and artificially created. The hot-spot system – the transformation of border islands into militarized zones of emergency – can never be accepted. And in Lampedusa it should be overcome by the „journey to peace“.

As a concrete step in this direction, we support the demand of the mayor for the reconversion of quarantine ships into ferries. The Italian government has extended the use of quarantine ships until 30 April 2022. These ships have never had any valid sanitary reason to fight the pandemic. Rather, they have been used as floating hotspots. They increase the discrimination in treatment, even in relation to covid, for migrants rescued at sea or arrived on Italian coasts after long and dangerous crossings. The mayor’s proposal to re-use them as ferries to facilitate the rapid transfer of people to Sicily, and avoiding the reproduction of permanent emergency situations on the island, is crucial to combine the right to rescue with the right to quick relocation and dignified reception, even in the presence of large numbers.

We need a welcoming Lampedusa and not a militarized island with a closed refugee camp. We need and demand for a peaceful landing and bridging point in the middle of the Central Mediterranean Sea.

Thus, we call all human rights organizations and all migrant rights associations to support the event on 28th of April and to amplify with real and digital sirens the start of a „journey to peace“ by the municipality of Lampedusa and Linosa and their mayor.

 

 

Signatures:

Alarm Phone

MEDITERRANEA Saving Humans

Borderline Europe

EMERGENCY ong onlus

IUVENTA Crew

Louise Michel

MSF

Mission LIFELINE

R24sailtraining

RESQSHIP

Salvamento Maritimo Humanitario

SARAH Seenotrettung

SEA EYE e.V.

SEEBRÜCKE

SOS Humanity

United4Rescue

Le Veglie Contro le Morti in Mare

News (EN)

Left-to-die four times: still no justice for the 130 people abandoned at sea on 21 April 2021

We gladly publish a statement released by Alarm Phone a year after the massacre at sea of 21st April 2021:
One year ago, on April 21 2021, a boat with about 130 people on board was abandoned in the Central Mediterranean sea (link to report): in worsening weather conditions despite their repeated calls for help. The following day, the NGO vessel Ocean Viking could only spot the boat’s wreck and a few floating bodies, after having navigated at full speed towards their last known location through the night.
 
Having been in touch with the 130 people in distress throughout the day of April 21, and having tried to mobilise all possibilities for rescue, the Alarm Phone could witness how the passengers of this boat were left to die 4 times (link). The 130 people were left to die the first time by the Frontex-operated planes (as well as possibly those of other European authorities) that sighted the boat already in the afternoon of April 21, but left the scene before rescue could be operated. The 130 people were left to die the second time by the so called Libyan Coast Guard, whose Ubari vessel returned to port after intercepting another boat just a few nautical miles away but refused to continue the search for this second boat ‘due to weather conditons’. The 130 people were left to die the third time by all authorities who refused to engage the merchant vessel Bruna, which was transiting less than 23 nautical miles away and did not respond to the Alarm Phone’s demand to intervene, claiming they would wait for authorities’ orders; the 130 people were left to die the fourth time by the Italian Coast Guard, which refused the coordination of rescue operations until the evening of April 21, despite having been informed of the distress several hours before. 
The reconstruction of events produced by Alarm Phone and Border Forensics tragically reveals how all possibilities for rescue were consciously ignored, and how the boat was knowingly abandoned to its fate. 
On the anniversary of this harrowing event, we want to remember the missing, whose absence continue to haunt the communities they belonged to. We ask authorities to finally disclose all the information in their possession, as only then the responsibilities of all actors involved might be established.
Since then, despite the public outcry for the events, nothing changed in the Central Mediterranean sea. We kept witnessing dozens of visible and invisible shipwrecks, we kept receiving requests from families about loved ones who disappeared at sea, and we kept denouncing authorities’ responsibilities for creating this violent border regime. We demand an end to this violence, which can only be achieved through the abolition of borders and freedom of movement for all.
News (EN)

MEDreport march 2022

curated by the MEDreport editorial team

Forced to flee across the Mediterranean, 1,296 people managed to arrive in Italy during the month of March – less than the previous month’s  2,439 arrivals which included 348 minors.

The Mediterranean Sea continues to be a place where more and more people, fleeing war and persecution, meet death. In the first 14 days of February, more than 70 people drowned off the coast of Libya. “I am shocked by the continuous loss of life in the central Mediterranean and the lack of action to deal with this ongoing tragedy,”said Sara Msehli, spokesperson for the UN agency for Migration. Daily death reports continue. On March 12th,  a fragile boat carrying 25 people capsized off the Libyan coast of Tobruk. The IOM continues to call for “concrete action to reduce the loss of life in the central Mediterranean route through search and rescue activities and a safe landing mechanism in accordance with international law.” More than half of this year’s deaths were recorded near the Libyan coast. Federico Soda, head of the IOM Libya mission explains, “Every report of missing migrants represents a bereaved family looking for answers regarding loved ones.”

 

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

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

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