Rettungsschiff ALAN KURDI

Italian coast guard refuses to conduct further inspections

The Italian coast guard has been detaining the Sea-Eye rescue ship ALAN KURDI in Olbia (Sardinia) for three months. Sea-Eye filed a lawsuit against the detention on January 5, 2021 at the administrative court in Cagliari. The court should now decide on the legality of the detention in an urgent procedure. It was the second detention of the ship following a rescue operation last year. In September the ALAN KURDI crew rescued 133 people, including 62 minors.

The Italian Coast Guard argues, among other things, that the ship has too few toilets on board. They claim the holding tanks are too small and that there are too many life jackets on board. The same politically motivated arguments are used by the coast guard against other German rescue ships.

Most recently, the Italian Coast Guard refused to conduct further inspections to end the detention. The argument put forward was that the declarations by the German flag state administration and the classification society were “no clear proof and evidence” that the ship’s complaints had been resolved. “For purely political reasons, the coast guard deliberately takes a fundamentally opposite stance to its German colleagues and thus creates an unsolvable situation. That is why we can practically do nothing else than to sue again,“ says Gorden Isler, chairman of Sea-Eye e. V.

With regard to the legal proceedings of the sea rescue organization Sea-Watch, whose complaint against the arrest of two rescue ships was referred to the European Court of Justice by the administrative court in Palermo on December 23, 2020, Isler continues: “We fear that our case will also be referred to the ECJ. A process lasting several years would cause great problems and raise fundamental questions. A blocked ship also costs a lot of money. These are donations that we would rather invest in equipping our new rescue ship SEA-EYE 4 in order to save human lives, instead of arguing in court about politically motivated bogus arguments.

Last August Sea-Eye protested for the first time against the detention of the ALAN KURDI on May 5th. To date, however, there is still no trial date in this matter.

Department of public prosecution continues to investigate the AfD politician

The Berlin regional court has issued an interim injunction against the former deputy federal chairman and chairman of the AfD faction in the Berlin House of Representatives, Georg Pazderski. The injunction prohibits him from alleging that Sea-Eye’s civil sea rescuers had brought the assassin of Nice to Europe. Pazderski had claimed this in a post published on Facebook in early November. The content was shared thousands of times and subsequently the Regensburg sea rescuers received many hate-messages, allegations and even death threats.

On the same day, Sea-Eye had made it clear that this allegation was counterfactual and filed a criminal complaint for all applicable criminal offenses against the AfD politician.

Prior to Pazderski’s publication the Italian interior minister had already confirmed that the murderer of Nice had arrived in Lampedusa on his own in a small rubber dinghy filled with around two dozen people. Even before Pazderski’s lie, the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung reconstructed how the assassin got to Europe.

“We must therefore assume that it was Pazderski’s intention to take advantage of the situation and the consternation of the afflicted people in a targeted manner in order to elevate his political profile, to grab for attention and to incite hate against Sea-Eye. His abuse of this immeasurable human suffering grants society a clear view of the character of this politician,” said Gorden Isler, Chairman of Sea-Eye e. V.

In addition, Sea-Eye also took action under civil law against Georg Pazderski. At the request of the Düsseldorf lawyer Jeremias Mameghani, the Berlin district court already issued an injunction against the AfD politician in November, according to which he was not allowed to repeat this claim under threat of a fine of up to € 250,000 or arrest for contempt. According to Mameghani, this decision could only be delivered to Pazderski now, as his private address first had to be determined and there had apparently been delays in court due to the Corona-pandemic.

Sea-Eye will continue to fight against hate and agitation directed at their sea rescuers.

We are working closely with the Regensburg police and we will report every single criminal offense,” says Gorden Isler, chairman of Sea-Eye e. V.

Starting in 2021, MOAS and Sea-Eye will conduct joint rescue missions. This is a big step for both organizations. Personnel, technical and financial resources will be combined to achieve one goal: to save more lives together.

SEA-EYE 4

New alliance-ship: SEA-EYE 4

The coalition for sea rescue United4Rescue, which now has more than 660 coalition partners, wants to finance the purchase and, to a large extent, the overhaul of the new rescue ship SEA-EYE 4.

The former offshore supply-vessel (built in 1972, 55 m long, 11 m wide) is currently being converted into a rescue ship and is operated by the sea rescue organization Sea-Eye e. V. The SEA-EYE 4 is significantly larger than the ALAN KURDI, Sea-Eye’s current rescue ship. Sea-Eye has saved the lives of around 15,000 people in the Mediterranean since the beginning of 2016.

SEA-EYE 4: Shipyard Work

We are very grateful to United4Rescue. Without the support of the coalition, buying such a large ship would have remained inconceivable to us,” says Gorden Isler, Chairman of Sea-Eye e. V.

“Since our first campaign for Sea-Watch we have received a lot of support, so we decided: We will send another ship!” says Sandra Bils, founding member of United4Rescue. “Almost every day we receive terrible news of unanswered emergency calls and ship accidents in the Mediterranean. It cannot be that there aren’t enough rescue ships available.”

No safe passage

The member states of the European Union ignore their duty to rescue at sea. They refuse to fulfil their state and humanitarian duty in the Mediterranean. Because there are hardly any safe and legal escape routes, many people continue to attempt the life-threatening passage across the Mediterranean. The operational area is very large and there are only a handful of rescue ships – another civilian rescue ship is therefore urgently needed.

SEA-EYE 4: Shipyard Work

In addition, civil sea rescue is repeatedly blocked for political reasons and subjected to bureaucratic harassment. United4Rescue also supports rescue organizations in meeting new technical requirements or in freeing the detained ships by legal means.

Due to its size and equipment, the SEA-EYE 4 will be able to accommodate and supply significantly more people than the previous Sea-Eye ships. But before the fourth ship of the Regensburg Sea Rescue organization is operational, extensive shipyard work is required.

United4Rescue finances the purchase and renovation of the SEA-EYE 4

United4Rescue wants to finance the overhauling of the rescue ship in addition to the purchase price. The coalition plans to contribute a total of € 434,000.00 to the project. In order to be able to send the SEA-EYE 4 on its first mission as quickly as possible, United4Rescue has started a donation campaign on the website www.wesendaship.org.

SEA-EYE 4: Shipyard Work

Together with partners like United4Rescue we are on the right track. But in order to fully equip the SEA-EYE 4 and send it on a mission, we need further support,” says Isler.

“The necessity for our coalition sending another ship is actually a scandal. It is absurd, no, a testimony to Europe’s failure to fulfil its obligation to save people. We will not stand idly by this political failure,” said Bils.

UNO-Flüchtlingshilfe, German partner of UNHCR

German national partner of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) contributes to on-board hospital financing

Sea-Eye is in the largest project in its history and is now receiving support from the UNO-Flüchtlingshilfe, German partner of UNHCR. In September Sea-Eye signed the purchase agreement for its new rescue ship. The ship, which will be named GHALIB KURDI, is currently being converted for rescue purposes in the Mediterranean. Equipping a rescue ship of this size is a considerable task, for which the UNO-Flüchtlingshilfe is now supporting Sea-Eye with a grant of € 25,000.

With this contribution, UNO-Flüchtlingshilfe will help to set up and equip the GHALIB KURDI on-board hospital. In the event of an emergency, the rescued people urgently need medical care, because most of them sustained injuries, fell ill or suffered torture while fleeing. Pregnant women also venture the dangerous route across the Mediterranean in search of a safe place for their unborn child and need special care. The new on-board medical station will ensure the primary treatment of the rescued people and will also be prepared for possible corona cases on board.

We are very grateful to the UNO-Flüchtlingshilfe for supporting the financing of this important project and will soon introduce a new medical cooperation partner with whom we want to face the growing challenges together,“ says Gorden Isler, Chairman of Sea-Eye e. V.

Any discussion about whether people should be rescued from distress at sea is inadmissible. This is a self-evident necessity and our humanitarian obligation. The Sea-Eye team is providing this invaluable vital aid,“ says Peter Ruhenstroth-Bauer, Managing Director of the UNO-Flüchtlingshilfe, German partner of UNHCR.

Sea Eye’s new vessel GHALIB KURDI is currently being converted into a rescue ship and will support the future operations of ALAN KURDI in the Mediterranean. Sea-Eye intends to introduce GHALIB KURDI and the new partner organisations in November.

ALAN KURDI in port

Sea-Eye asks the German Foreign Office for diplomatic support

  • ALAN KURDI detained in Olbia
  • Italy’s illegitimate repression of German sea rescue organisation
  • Sea-Eye asks German Foreign Office for help

On Friday evening, the Italian coast guard detained the ALAN KURDI for the second time this year after an eight-hour port state control. Spanish and German authorities had previously certified the ship as ready for operation after a several-week break in the shipyard.

Captain Joachim Ebeling speaks of “salami tactics” and goes on to say: “If you were really concerned about the safety of the people we rescued, you would not spend hours on end looking for ways to detain us at every opportunity.”

This detention puts all the other missions of this year at risk. Sea-Eye intends to file an immediate appeal against the detention.

It is unacceptable that Italy questions the German and Spanish authorities’ ability to judge the safety on board the ALAN KURDI. This is absurd and unmasking. The arrests of German rescue vessels are purely politically motivated,” says Gorden Isler, Chairman of Sea-Eye.

ALAN KURDI with German flag

Italy’s illegitimate repression of German sea rescue organisation

Although the Italian government has withdrawn Salvini’s draconian punishments against sea rescue organisation, they have not been abolished. Instead, Italy is currently stopping three German rescue ships and one Norwegian ship from continuing rescue operations. In Italy’s statement on the detention, the coast guard again complains that more people were on board than allowed.

The Italian coastguard described the purpose of the ALAN KURDI in June as a kind of “service for migrants at sea“, refused to coordinate the last maritime emergencies in September, and ignored the legal requirement for cooperation between rescue centres.

Italy makes it clear that it no longer regards the saved persons as persons rescued from distress at sea, but as passengers.”

— Gorden Isler —

What we see here is the official implementation of a right-wing populist narrative with concrete measures, aimed in particular at transporting people and simply ignoring the maritime emergency beforehand. This is particularly grotesque because until two years ago Italy herself was still rescuing people from such boats off Libya,” Isler continues.

Sea-Eye asks German Foreign Office for help

On Friday evening, Sea-Eye formally asked the German Foreign Office and the German Foreign Minister for support. After all, the detention of the ALAN KURDI, SEA-WATCH 3 and SEA-WATCH 4 not only openly calls into question the rights of German aid organisations. The rights of the flag state to equip its ships with safety certificates are also affected here. However, the protests of the German Ministry of Transport to the Italian colleagues have so far remained fruitless.

We are being held for political reasons. We are therefore asking the Foreign Office to try to find a diplomatic solution. After all, it is a matter of people’s survival,” says Isler.

According to the IOM, 675 people have drowned in the Mediterranean in 2020 so far. ALAN KURDI was able to save more than 300 lives this year.

We could have saved many more people. Without the blockades of the rescue ships, the number of victims would certainly have been lower,” continues Isler.

— Gorden Isler —
so-called Libyan coast guard

On September 19, ALAN KURDI observed how refugees were forcibly returned to Libya. They are now faced with imprisonment, torture and forced disappearance. The EU fully supports these forced push-backs by the so-called Libyan Coast Guard.

In the port of Olbia

Italian authorities seemed unprepared

The ALAN KURDI reached the port of Olbia in Sardinia on Friday morning (25.09.20). It was to last until Saturday noon at 13:15 until all rescued people were allowed to leave the rescue ship. The process of registering the people and undergoing a health check took considerably longer than usual.

Yesterday, our guests had to wait on deck of the ALAN KURDI for many hours in the cold, wind, and rain. 61 people even had to spend another night on board, as the Italian authorities suspended the registration process yesterday at about 20:30 and only started it again on Saturday morning.

Rescued with blanket

We can only guess why it took so long. But it seems that the Italian authorities were simply overwhelmed. This was not a friendly welcome for our guests, who had to wait freezing in blankets in the rain, but they endured it with great patience,“ says Kai, human rights observer on board the ALAN KURDI.

Preparations in Olbia

The crew has now also been tested for Covid-19. The results are still pending. The Italian authorities had already announced yesterday that the crew of the ALAN KURDI will undergo a 14-day quarantine in Olbia. The captain’s request to head for the port of call Marseille was rejected.

We have not received any support from any EU state in our work during this mission. But we are glad that we were able to move 133 people to a safe place. We wish these people all the best,“ said Gorden Isler, Chairman of Sea-Eye at the end of the mission.

Meanwhile, the crew is preparing the rescue ship for the next mission.

Guests aboard the ALAN KURDI

People freeze the whole day in cold and rain

As previously announced, the ALAN KURDI was allowed to enter the port of Olbia on Friday morning. But the Italian authorities refused to allow all of the rescued persons to disembark. All day long, the survivors kept waiting aboard ALAN KURDI, wrapped in blankets and freezing, while it was raining heavily and a cold wind was blowing over the harbor.

Freezing rescued persons with blankets in the rain

After the captain had insisted on a disembarkation for several hours, the authorities finally stated that the 125 rescued people could leave the ALAN KURDI and the first of them could disembark. At around 8:30 p.m., the Italian authorities stopped this process, although around half of the refugees were still on board the ship. The remaining people are supposed to stay on deck of the ALAN KURDI, sleeping outside in the cold and wind, until tomorrow morning.

Child with life belt

Italy shows its ugliest side here. On this ship, people who have fled a civil war country are waiting to be offered a warm place to sleep. Is that asking too much?, asks Gorden Isler, Chairman of Sea-Eye e. V.

The rescued people have been enduring this ordeal with great patience all day.

It has already been announced to the crew of the ALAN KURDI, that they must undergo a 14-day quarantine, as was previously mandated for other rescue ships. The captain’s request to be allowed to continue sailing to Marseille after disembarkation was declined.

Captain of ALAN KURDI
Joachim Ebeling, Captain of ALAN KURDI
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.