Lifeboat off the ALAN KURDI

Italian supply vessel refuses to rescue 82 persons

  • ALAN KURDI saves 68 people on Monday morning
  • Libyan militia endanger rescue and fires shots
  • further rescue of 82 people on Monday afternoon
  • Italian offshore utility ASSO VENTINOVE refuses rescue
  • Federal Ministry of the Interior asks sea rescue organisations to stop their work

On Monday morning, the crew of the ALAN KURDI rescued 68 people from an overcrowded wooden boat in international water off of Libya’s coast. The distress call had been logged by Alarm Phone and was immediately forwarded to the responsible authorities by Captain Bärbel Beuse. During the rescue, a Libyan-flagged speedboat endangered the work of Sea-Eye’s rescue crew. After shots were fired in the air, approximately half of the people on the wooden boat jumped into the water in panic without lifejackets and tried to swim towards the ALAN KURDI. The rescue boat crew deployed life saving appliances and a so-called CentiFloat to save the people from drowning.

“When I heard the Libyan gunfire, I was very concerned about my crew and the refugees,” says Stefan Schütz, head of mission aboard the ALAN KURDI.

After the situation calmed and the Libyans started to back off, all the people in distress were supplied with lifejackets and taken on board the ALAN KURDI.

Already during this first rescue, Alarm Phone received a second distress call north of the ALAN KURDI’s position. While the Italian offshore-supplier ASSO VENTINOVE had reached this second emergency several hours before the ALAN KURDI, it did not commence any rescue efforts. Due to its size the Italian supply ship would have been significantly better suited to rescue the 82 persons, among them one pregnant women, from the wooden boat. By reasoning that they had to stay put, so as to be able to assist the oil rigs close-by, in case of a possible accident there, the ASSO VENTINOVE refused to rescue and denied responsibility for coordination. Hence, the ALAN KURDI also evacuated the second boat and is now looking for a port of safety, with a total of 150 rescued people on board.

Through a verbal note, Italian and Maltese ministries have made it clear to the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs, that they would not consent to a disembarkation, even if the distribution of the rescued persons would be arranged. As justification, the two states cited the public health emergencies in their own countries. During the second rescue efforts, the German Federal Interior Ministry approached Sea-Eye and other rescue organizations with the following request:

“In light of the current difficult situation, we call on you to not undertake any journeys at this time and to call back any already deployed ships”.

At this point, the ALAN KURDI had already been underway for seven days and was evacuating the second overcrowded wooden boat.

Every human life is valuable. We are sure, that the German Federal Foreign Minister will succeed in taking on additional responsibility for 150 people. After all, Germany is our flag state. During the past few days, the Federal Government has successfully repatriated 200.000 of its own citizens from abroad in an immense effort. It must be imaginable and humanly possible to send an aircraft for 150 safety-seeking people to Southern Europe in order to immediately evacuate these people. In Germany, there are approximately 150 cities in the Coalition of Safe Ports who declared their readiness to receive people on the move, states Gorden Isler, chairman of Sea-Eye e. V.