Refugees on board the SEA-EYE 4

A Reason To Celebrate – But Why?

How was the Geneva Refugee Convention created?

During the two world wars in the 20th century, there were countless refugees, but no legally binding regulation for their protection. However, the need to protect refugees at international level became all too clear during these times. The breakthrough came on July 28, 1951 at a special UN conference in Geneva, when the Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees – the central legal document for the protection of refugees – was passed.

What is the content of the Geneva Refugee Convention?

The terms refugees, people on the move, fleeing persons and migrants are often used synonymously. However, the Geneva Refugee Convention defines when a person is considered a “refugee”. It also defines the rights and obligations of refugees.

Why is the Geneva Refugee Convention important for sea rescue?

The prohibition of expulsion and rejection is of particular importance. This means that states cannot deport a refugee to a country where their life or freedom is threatened. That is why people who have fled and who have been rescued from distress in the Mediterranean must be brought to a safe port in the European Union. Since the EU states themselves are not allowed to reject refugees, the EU instructs the so-called Libyan coast guard to intercept refugees at sea and to kidnap and bring them back to the war-torn country. This practice is a massive attack on the Geneva Refugee Convention.

How is the current situation?

The rights of refugees are threatened worldwide. There is no dedicated state-side European sea rescue operation for refugees in the Mediterranean. Instead, the EU is working with the so-called Libyan Coast Guard, which is responsible for numerous violent attacks on refugees, including such attacks that have resulted in the death of refugees. In Libya, people find themselves in detention camps where they are facing threats such as torture, rape and other serious human rights violations.

“70 years of the Geneva Refugee Convention are not only a reason to celebrate, but also to be outraged. It is our legal and moral duty to protect people in need. The EU blatantly disregards the rights of refugees at its borders. If we do not protect these people and their rights, we will lose the Geneva Refugee Convention. So this anniversary is also a reminder to protect what must not be lost if we want a more humane world.”
– Sophie Weidenhiller, spokeswoman for Sea-Eye e. V. –

Sophie Weidenhiller, Pressesprecherin von Sea-Eye

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Italian sea rescue organization ResQ starts new missions under the new ship name “ResQ PEOPLE

With a heavy heart, Sea-Eye parts with their rescue ship ALAN KURDI. The frequent detentions of the rescue ships forced Sea-Eye to sell the rescue vessel to the Italian sea rescue organization ResQ for 400,000 € for financial reasons. The ship will now be operated under the name ResQ PEOPLE. In the future, Sea-Eye will exclusively operate the SEA-EYE 4.

The detentions of civil sea rescue ships flying the German flag by the Italian authorities are a heavy financial burden for Sea-Eye. The Italian coast guard already detained the ALAN KURDI twice on flimsy grounds. Sea-Eye managed to free the ship both times after lengthy discussions and with the use of legal means. The detention of the rescue ships not only prevents Sea-Eye from doing its work but also costs enormous sums of money for port and legal fees.

For Sea-Eye it was a difficult, but an equally rational decision. Sea-Eye urgently needs the sales proceeds to continue operating the SEA-EYE 4.

We are grateful that this special ship remains in service of sea rescue. If there are organizations that have two ships and few resources, then you have to start a discussion with friends who have resources and are looking for a ship. We are living the spirit of European cooperation, just like we demand it from the EU states” says Gorden Isler, Chairman of Sea-Eye e. V.

The ALAN KURDI was the first rescue ship to fly the German flag and was used for the first time in December 2018. In total, Sea-Eye sent the ALAN KURDI on twelve rescue missions and thus saved 927 lives. Around 240 crew members total went on missions on this vessel.

Sea-Eye is grateful to all partners and donors who have sent this ship on rescue missions with us for more than two years. Sea-Eye would like to especially express their thanks to the Kurdi family. Abdullah and Tima Kurdi, father and aunt of the drowned Syrian boy Alan Kurdi, named the ship in February 2019. It was not easy for the family to endure all the ghastly hate speech that was posted online. But the ALAN KURDI was an important symbol and an appeal to Europe for two years. Sea-Eye will remain deeply connected to the Kurdi family in the future.

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