On board the SEA-EYE 4, Monique told her harrowing story to our crew member Fiona just before Christmas. It gives us an insight into the fate of the young woman, the dangers on the flight as well as the hell in Libya.

“My mother is from Sierra Leone and my father from Mali. I was born a bastard child. Around the age of five my father kidnapped me and we went to Mali. Then the war happened, so he left alone to the USA. I stayed with my grandmother. She mistreated me. My mother was looking for me, my mother didn’t know where I was and I had no news from my father.

In Mali, I had to get married when I was 15. I got an arranged marriage. The man who married me was beating me all day. We had three kids, the third one was born premature. I had the first one at age 15. My last child was at age 20.

I didn’t know what to do… If I stay with my husband he will beat me, if I go back to my family, they will send me away… I left from a tiny village in Mali, I had no money left. I fled my arranged marriage with one of my daughter. An old lady who was sharing an apartment with us, took care of me. Then someone told me that my mother had died. I heard she died homeless.

I met a Nigerian man on Facebook living in Belgium, we fell in love. I tried to come across the Mediterranean Sea. But then I got caught and sent to prison.

There I saw a lot of things. I don’t know why it’s like that, but the pain is too much. They mistreated me, locked me up with no food. If you fall ill, you’ll die there. And then if you want to go back home, you can’t.

They were raping girls in front of everyone.

Once they picked a girl and asked a guy to sleep with her in front of everyone. She didn’t have a choice because they had a Kalashnikov in their hands. He slept with the girl in front of everyone, only because she was black. There was a man who buried his pregnant wife with his two kids. Then he became ill… all his body was emaciated but they wouldn’t let him out because he didn’t have the money. He died in prison, he had no hope left. People who try to escape, will get shot at. In my cell, some people died there. Once there was a guy who tried to escape, they hit him so badly in front of us, all his body was covered with blood.

It’s the same ones who help you cross and then the same ones who bring you to prison. They catch you at sea, they mistreat you. They catch you at home, they mistreat you, in the streets, they mistreat you. They tell you to call home and ask for money. Asking for 1000, 1500 euros. And even if you give that sum, they can still come back. You can buy black people in prison. A guy wanted me, he wanted to have a sexual relationship. He paid 1000 euros for me to come out of prison. But I didn’t want him, so I fled.”

Monique*, 25 from Sierra Leone was rescued along with 223 people by the SEA-EYE 4 on its Christmas mission and safely brought ashore in Pozzallo on Christmas Eve.
*Name and personal data have been changed to protect her.


Disembarkation expected for Christmas Eve

The SEA-EYE 4 was finally assigned a port of safety in Pozzallo in the afternoon of December 23rd. The rescue ship will arrive at the port on December 24th around 7:30 a.m. “We hope that people will be able to go ashore soon and not have to spend the Christmas days on board,” says Gorden Isler, chairman of Sea-Eye e. V. Many of the rescued people had to receive medical treatment aboard and they are going to continue to need medical care on land.

The crew of SEA-EYE 4 had rescued 223 people in the Maltese search, rescue and coordination zone in a total of four rescue operations on December 16 and 17, but Malta had refused to take over the coordination of these cases. While the SEA-EYE 4 waited for a whole week for the assignment a port of safety, 9 people had to be evacuated by the Italian coast guard for medical reasons in 4 medical evacuations.


We are infinitely relieved that people are finally allowed to go ashore. It is significant that even on Christmas Eve people are brought to safety by sea rescuers. The humanitarian crisis does not make Christmas vacation. We are particularly grateful to the civil society sea rescue alliance United4Rescue, who made this additional rescue mission possible. It saved the lives of another 223 people,” says Isler.

In total, the SEA-EYE 4 has rescued over 1400 people from distress at sea during four rescue missions in 2021.

Malta is violating its duty to rescue boats in distress

Since the SEA-EYE 4 arrived in the Maltese search and rescue zone on Thursday, December 16, 2021, numerous reports of boats in distress have reached the rescue ship. In total, the crew of the SEA-EYE 4 rescued a total of 223 people in four rescue operations. Among them are 29 women, 7 of whom are pregnant, and 8 children. The crew is currently looking for another boat in distress.

Although further boats carrying numerous people in acute distress have been reported at sea since yesterday, Malta has once again failed to fulfill its obligation to coordinate distress cases at sea and rescue these people. Civil sea rescue organizations are currently the only European forces looking for people and trying to bring them to safety. Since the weather is expected to deteriorate significantly soon, the chances of survival for people who are still at sea decrease significantly.

On the one hand, I am grateful that the SEA-EYE 4 was able to save many people once again. At the same time, it is hard to bear that we have to assume that no help at all came for some of the boats in danger. Civil sea rescue capacities are important, but also limited. The cold-blooded ignorance of the EU costs us human lives – the sea-grave is growing, even if we constantly fight against it. The people who drowned in agony simply wanted a life in safety to which they were entitled – and we deny it to them. But what right do we have to elevate ourselves above these people and their fate?” says Sophie Weidenhiller, spokeswoman for Sea-Eye e. V.

The survivors on board the SEA-EYE 4 are currently being cared for and medically treated by the crew. One child has a broken arm and another has a broken finger. Two pregnant women have stomach pains and several people have had to be treated for chemical burns and hypothermia.

It is shocking how many people flee across the Mediterranean in overcrowded, completely unsuitable boats, regardless of the dangers. And it is deeply inhuman that the EU continues to leave the rescue of these desperate people to NGOs like us. Shortly before the turn of the year, we hope that politics will finally change in 2022 and that the dying at the deadliest sea border will come to an end,” said Dr. Christine Winkelmann, Head of German Doctors e. V. The aid organization supports the Sea-Eye rescue operations financially and with medical staff and expertise.

It is wonderful news that our alliance ship SEA-EYE 4 was already able to rescue 223 people during this mission. And a message that fits Christmas! As United4Rescue, we are particularly pleased that the SKYBIRD aircraft discovered the first two emergencies at sea – because United4Rescue only recently provided financial assistance to put this new reconnaissance aircraft into operation. We very much hope that the crew of the SEA-EYE 4 will save even more lives on this Christmas mission,” says Liza Pflaum, board member of United4Rescue.


Sea rescue alliance covers costs for fourth rescue mission

On Saturday afternoon, Dec. 11, 2021, the rescue ship SEA-EYE 4 set out on its fourth rescue mission. The departure was largely made possible by the sea rescue alliance United4Rescue, which is collecting donations under the keyword #ChristmasMission to be able to finance the mission of the Sea-Eye rescue ship. The SEA-EYE 4 is the second alliance ship of United4Rescue. The alliance had already contributed significantly to the purchase costs of the SEA-EYE 4 rescue ship.

We are really very grateful to the alliance United4Rescue. It combines the forces of more than 800 organizations and now ensures that we are able to set off on our fourth mission,” says Gorden Isler, Chairman of Sea-Eye e. V.

The fact that our alliance ship SEA-EYE 4 is now leaving for her Christmas mission and will save lives is good news! The fact that we as United4Rescue can make this mission possible thanks to countless donations also shows: There are very, very many people who do not agree with the European policy of isolation and do not want to be jointly responsible for the suffering and dying at the EU’s external borders,” says Liza Pflaum, board member of United4Rescue e. V.

The joint crews of the Regensburg-based sea rescuers of Sea-Eye e. V. and the Bonn-based aid organization German Doctors e. V. have already saved 1,194 lives in their three missions with the SEA-EYE 4. In the process, German Doctors e. V. substantially contributed to the construction and operation of the SEA-EYE 4’s onboard hospital. On the third rescue mission in November 2021, the crew came to the aid of 757 people after Malta refused to coordinate several maritime emergencies and rescue people from a wooden boat overloaded with 400 people.

The EU is still doing too little to prevent deaths in the Mediterranean. Together with our partners, we will therefore continue to support the necessary, life-saving missions of the SEA-EYE 4 in the coming year,” said Dr. Harald Kischlat, board member of German Doctors e. V.

The SEA-EYE 4 will reach its area of operation before the 4th of Advent. The crew will continue to train for emergencies on the way there. The 25-member crew is expected to keep watch in the operational area on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.