Man with blanket

The French government appealed to Italy

ALAN KURDI anchors off Sardinia
Following the announcement by Sea-Eye on Tuesday morning that the ALAN KURDI will call at its Port of Call Marseille, the German rescue vessel has now been allocated an Italian port in Sardinia after all. Whether Arbatax can become the port of disembarkation for 125 rescued persons remains unclear, however. So far the ALAN KURDI is only allowed to anchor off Sardinia to seek protection from a storm.

The Italian maritime rescue coordination centre had previously refused to coordinate the operation. Meanwhile, the German Ministry of Transport made no visible effort to ask its Italian colleagues for coordination.

The German and Italian authorities now have to explain why they silently ducked away from responsibility for four whole days,” says Gorden Isler, chairman of Sea-Eye e. V.

The French government pressed for a solution on Wednesday evening and successfully appealed to the Italian government to respect humanitarian principles in the case of ALAN KURDI. On Wednesday midnight, the Italian rescue coordination centre contacted the captain of the ALAN KURDI to discuss “further coordination”. They suggested a port in Sardinia to the captain in order to find shelter from the weather for the time being.

Rescued family on ALAN KURDI

Of course we follow this suggestion. After all, we have been asking for the coordination of our case for five days,” Isler continues.

Situation on board the ALAN KURDI
In the meantime, the ALAN KURDI has reached the port of Arbatax and was instructed by the harbour master’s office to anchor there for the time being and to wait for further instructions. The situation on board the ALAN KURDI is described by human rights observer Kai Echelmeyer as stable. Even though some people need to be treated for seasickness, there are no serious problems or conflicts on board.

However, we still have more than 50 minors on board, including many unaccompanied and also small children,” says Echelmeyer.

Children playing on the ALAN KURDI

However, Sea-Eye’s repeated requests to disembark the particularly vulnerable persons immediately also remain unanswered.

EU Commission calls for coordination and rapid disembarkation in the Migration Pact
On Wednesday, the EU Commission presented its migration pact.

Search and rescue operations in emergency situations require coordination and rapid disembarkation to a safe place and respect for the fundamental rights of the persons rescued, in accordance with the obligations of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, including the principle of non-refoulement, and with customary and conventional international human rights law and the Law of the Sea,” says point 7 of the paper presented by the Commission.

Commissioner Ylva Johannson underlined the particular importance of civil sea rescue efforts and of supporting them.

But this is precisely what is not happening at present in the Central Mediterranean. The Commission is calling for legal norms that should be self-evident and should already be complied with,” said Isler.

The fact that Italy completely rejects the responsibility for a maritime emergency is a novelty for Sea-Eye.

It suggests that Italy no longer even classifies people rescued from distress as maritime emergencies,” says Isler.

In a conversation between the Italian coast guard and Sea-Eye representatives last June, an Italian coast guard lawyer spoke of a “service for migrants at sea” when describing the purpose of ALAN KURDI from the Italian coast guard’s point of view.

This shows that the Italian view has changed not only on the rescue vessels of the humanitarian organisations, but especially on the rescued people. If you think this through to the end, you come to the frightening conclusion that the coast guard has taken over the view of right-wing populist politicians and is now using the term ‘passengers’ in order to be able to detain the ships for technical reasons,” Isler continues.