Joint press release by Sea-Eye, German Doctors, Refugee Rescue and United4Rescue

Organisations demand: EU states must end policy of deterrence immediately

On Saturday, 21.05.22, the preliminary hearing against 21 sea rescuers will begin in Trapani, Sicily. They are accused of “aiding and abetting unauthorised entry into Italy”. Numerous organisations express their solidarity with the defendants in the run-up to the trial. On Saturday, a day of action in Germany will take place, where Sea-Eye groups as well as activists from Seebrücke and other organisations will take to the streets.

On the occasion of the preliminary hearing Sea-Eye, German Doctors, Refugee Rescue and United4Rescue, who conduct sea rescue operations as partner organisations with the rescue ship SEA-EYE 4, have published a joint statement.

Joint Statement:

21 sea rescuers have been criminally charged for saving people from drowning. These measures must never become the normality. It must always hurt us deeply in our hearts, because otherwise, we lose nothing less than the human right to life.

At the preliminary hearing on the 21st of May, 2022, the sea rescuers will sit in the dock as a deterrent because Trapani is not about “aiding and abetting unauthorised entry into Italy”. The entire process with its 5-year investigation pursues only one goal: deterrence. Its aim would be that seafarers think twice before rescuing fleeing people from distress at sea.

After EU member states ceased their sea rescue operations in the Mediterranean in 2015, they began to block or obstruct the life-saving work of sea rescue organisations. Thus, rescue ships were detained and the disembarkation of rescued people was delayed or denied. The fact that European rescue coordination centres ignore distress calls from people in distress at sea and refuse their duty to coordinate rescue operations has become a sad reality.

All these measures are part of a cruel policy of closure that does not shy away from criminalising and prosecuting sea rescuers. The 21 defendants face up to 20 years in prison and a fine of €15,000 per rescued person.

Sea-Eye, German Doctors, Refugee Rescue and United4Rescue strongly oppose this inhumane policy of deterrence and demand the immediate termination of the proceedings against the accused sea rescuers.

Furthermore, it’s not only sea rescuers that are on the European dock. Again and again, refugees in Italy, Greece and other EU countries are accused of “aiding and abetting unauthorised entry into Italy”. In Italy alone, at least 2,500 people have been detained since 2013.

Therefore we demand that the detained refugees be released and that EU member states immediately end their anti-human course of isolation and deterrence. The EU must finally support and protect people on the run instead of criminalising them and locking them up in overcrowded camps.

To put an end to the deaths in the Mediterranean, Sea-Eye, German Doctors, Refugee Rescue and United4Rescue call for the introduction of a European sea rescue programme and the creation of legal and safe passages.

Sea-Eye, German Doctors, Refugee Rescue and United4Rescue


Malta leaves 24 people in danger of death at sea

During the night from Wednesday (May 11, 2022) to Thursday, a distress call reached the SEA-EYE 4 via the organization AlarmPhone. 24 people were in distress in a small wooden boat in the Maltese search and rescue zone and called for help. The people said they had already fled Benghazi on May 8, 2022. They are from Eritrea, Sudan, Chad, Libya, Syria and Egypt. The Maltese rescue coordination center refused to coordinate rescue efforts in this case once again.

During Thursday (May 12, 2022), the oil tanker ROSS SEA approached the wooden boat. During the radio communication between the SEA-EYE 4 and the ROSS SEA, the captain of the ROSS SEA stated that he tried to reach the rescue coordination center in Malta, but received no response for a while.

The captain of the ROSS SEA radioed the SEA-EYE 4: “RCC Malta told me to keep on monitoring. They asked me to just stay around and keep on monitoring from distance.


We regularly receive no response from the rescue center in Malta during maritime emergencies as well. Why didn’t Malta directly ask ROSS SEA to rescue the people? Malta did not send any help for three days! By now, Malta stops at nothing to prevent people seeking protection from being able to reach Malta,” says Gorden Isler, Chairman of Sea-Eye e. V.

If Malta had coordinated the rescue and had it carried out by the ROSS SEA, whose next port of destination would have been the Maltese capital Valletta, Malta would have had to take in the people seeking protection, because Malta was the next port of safety as well as the port of destination of the ROSS SEA.

In recent days, we have once again witnessed Malta instructing even merchant ships that are required to provide assistance because they are legally obligated to do so, to keep their distance from people seeking protection in distress at sea. These methods are inhumane and violate basic human rights,” Isler continued.


The SEA-EYE 4 reached the wooden boat on Friday night (May 13, 2022). The crew was able to safely take all 24 people on board and provide them with first aid.

They are all extremely exhausted. Most of their clothes are soaked and therefore they are hypothermic. It is obvious that they are psychologically traumatized due to 6 days and nights at sea,” says Daniela Klein, doctor of German Doctors on board of SEA-EYE 4.

On May 8, 2022, the SEA-EYE 4 had already taken over 34 people from the cargo ship BSG BAHAMAS, whose crew had rescued the refugees from a small wooden boat. In this case Malta had refused to coordinate the rescue operation as well, so the MRCC Bremen had stepped in. Now the SEA-EYE 4 is in search of a port of safety for the total of 58 people seeking protection.


Hapag-Lloyd container ship BERLIN EXPRESS receives no assistance from Malta

On Friday evening (06.05.2022), the organization Alarm Phone reported a distress call in international waters north of Benghazi. The container ship BERLIN EXPRESS of Hamburg-based shipping line Hapag-Lloyd was the first ship at the scene and found a small, overcrowded wooden boat with 34 people. The incident occurred in the Maltese search and rescue zone. However, the Maltese rescue coordination center repeatedly violated its coordination duties and referred to the responsibility of the flag state. The BERLIN EXPRESS sails under German flag and has its home port in Hamburg.

Due to the weather and in particular the height of the freeboard, the Hamburg container ship was unable to rescue the people directly without further endangering their lives. The crew of the BERLIN EXPRESS provided the people seeking protection with food as well as drinking water, launched a life raft and stayed with the 34 people until they were rescued. A Hapag-Lloyd employee told Sea-Eye that one crew member was injured in the process. After returning and receiving treatment on the BERLIN EXPRESS, the crew member is doing well.


German authorities contacted Sea-Eye’s head of mission on Saturday morning to seek solutions to the difficult situation. The SEA-EYE 4 was 40 hours away from the case at the time.

On Saturday afternoon, the German rescue control center MRCC Bremen contacted the SEA-EYE 4 and asked to provide assistance to the BERLIN EXPRESS. The SEA-EYE 4 therefore left its operational area east of Tripoli and set course for the position of the BERLIN EXPRESS.

Several cargo vessels reached the BERLIN EXPRESS before the SEA-EYE 4, including the BSG BAHAMAS, which is managed by the Hamburg-based CPO Containerschiffreederei GmbH & Co. KG. Sunday at noon, the crew of the BSG BAHAMAS finally succeeded in rescuing the 34 people and evacuating them to the BSG BAHAMAS. At this point, the people had already been at sea for four nights.


The BSG Bahamas, which we manage, was requested by MRCC Bremen to participate in the rescue of 34 people while en route from Alexandria to Tangier Med, west of Malta. Our vessel reached the position after dark, with 7.20m freeboard and 2m swell the immediate rescue was deemed too dangerous for those to be rescued. After sunrise, our captain, with full support from the shipping company and close cooperation with the MRCC Bremen, decided to take the people on board with his crew and provide them with care. Except for two obviously seasick persons, they are doing well so far according to our knowledge. We thank our captain and his crew for their excellent seamanship, a prerequisite for the successful execution of such a rescue operation,” said Ortwin Mühr, spokesman for CPO Containerschiffreederei GmbH & Co. KG from Hamburg.

The BERLIN EXPRESS was then able to continue its voyage.

Our captain and his crew did an outstanding job and there was no question from the first minute that we would help the people in distress as best we could,” said Silke Muschitz, Head of Fleet Management at Hapag-Lloyd. “We would like to express our sincere thanks for the good support we received from Sea-Eye. Our captains were in constant exchange and the situation showed us once again how important good cooperation is when rescuing people in distress at sea,” Muschitz added.

Late Sunday afternoon, the SEA-EYE 4 encountered the BSG BAHAMAS. After the captain of the container ship asked the SEA-EYE 4 to take over the rescued persons, the joint medical team of Sea-Eye and German Doctors visited the BSG BAHAMAS to assess the situation. Both captains agreed that the 34 rescued people could be better cared for and medically treated on the rescue ship SEA-EYE 4 than on a container ship. Therefore, the SEA-EYE 4 took over all 34 rescued people early Sunday evening. The SEA-EYE 4 has a trained medical team, an on-board hospital, enough provisions and sleeping places for the 34 completely exhausted survivors, who have now had to hold out at sea for around four days.


Without the crews of the BERLIN EXPRESS and the BSG BAHAMAS, the people would have had no chance to survive. They would have died of thirst or drowned,” said Gorden Isler, chairman of Sea-Eye e. V. “It should not have come that far. The distress case finally occurred in the Maltese search and rescue zone. Once again, Malta refused responsibility and coordination, so the German rescue coordination center in Bremen was forced to coordinate a distress call in the Mediterranean.

So-called Libyan Coast Guard

Threats in international waters

Early Wednesday morning, the so-called Libyan Coast Guard threatened the rescue ship SEA-EYE 4 and urged it to leave “Libyan territory”. However, the SEA-EYE 4 was in international waters at the time, where ships are allowed to move freely according to international laws.

The Libyan warship, marked 660, circled the SEA-EYE 4 for 50 minutes at a distance of about 500 meters and repeated its threats several times, then turned away to head west.

SEA-EYE 4’s head of mission informed the Maritime Distress Control Center in Rome and the German authorities about the incident. The so-called Libyan Coast Guard has threatened rescue ships with violence several times in recent years and even fired warning shots. Ongoing rescue missions have also been repeatedly disrupted by the so-called Libyan Coast Guard, in some cases causing people to drown.

So-called Libyan Coast Guard

“EU member states are funding the so-called Libyan Coast Guard to keep people from fleeing Libya. In doing so, these EU states are supporting violent and unpredictable actors. These unscrupulous militias are a political tool. Every time the so-called Libyan Coast Guard drags people back into civil war, obstructs rescue operations or threatens sea rescuers, EU member states accept a significant share of responsibility for these crimes. The EU must stop cooperating with the so-called Libyan Coast Guard and ensure safe passages for all people seeking protection,” says Gorden Isler, Chairman of Sea-Eye e. V.

So-called Libyan Coast Guard

Safety and Rescue, yes! Hot-spot and militarization, no!

We are impressed by the initiative of the mayor of Lampedusa and Linosa, Totò Martello, who wants to bring the islands into a „Journey for Peace“ – a visionary process for humanity, inviting and including also all civil actors at sea. 

We believe in Lampedusa as an “island that saves”, as a natural landing place for thousands of women, men and children crossing the sea, while migrating or fleeing from inhuman conditions. But we have to distinguish and to separate two important issues: rescuing people does not mean to keep humans in camps or hot-spots. As we can see around the treatment of refugees from Ukraine, it is a possible political decision to let people freely move all over Europe, where they have relatives and friends or other contacts that allow them to be welcomed and to live in the best way.  

We see how horrible the opposite situation can be, as on the Greek islands like Lesvos or Samos, where people on the move are blocked or even detained in huge camps for months or years, and where a situation of permanent crisis is politically and artificially created. The hot-spot system – the transformation of border islands into militarized zones of emergency – can never be accepted. And in Lampedusa it should be overcome by the „journey to peace“. 

As a concrete step in this direction, we support the demand of the mayor for the reconversion of quarantine ships into ferries. The Italian government has extended the use of quarantine ships until 30 April 2022. These ships have never had any valid sanitary reason to fight the pandemic. Rather, they have been used as floating hotspots. They increase the discrimination in treatment, even in relation to covid, for migrants rescued at sea or arrived on Italian coasts after long and dangerous crossings. The mayor’s proposal to re-use them as ferries to facilitate the rapid transfer of people to Sicily, and avoiding the reproduction of permanent emergency situations on the island, is crucial to combine the right to rescue with the right to quick relocation and dignified reception, even in the presence of large numbers. 

We need a welcoming Lampedusa and not a militarized island with a closed refugee camp. We need and demand for a peaceful landing and bridging point in the middle of the Central Mediterranean Sea. 

Thus, we call all human rights organizations and all migrant rights associations to support the event on 28th of April and to amplify with real and digital sirens the start of a „journey to peace“ by the municipality of Lampedusa and Linosa and their mayor.

Alarm Phone
Borderline Europe
EMERGENCY ong onlus
Louise Michel
Salvamento Maritimo Humanitario

Rescue ship SEA-EYE 4 sets out on next mission

The rescue ship SEA-EYE 4 set out on its second rescue mission this year on Friday afternoon, April 22, 2022. According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), 561 fleeing people have already died in 2022 in the Mediterranean Sea.

These days, politicians in Berlin would call it an unprecedented shame if 561 Ukrainian people had died at the borders of the European Union this year as they fled and sought protection. Governments would have to explain themselves, calls for resignations would be heard, there would be talk of total political failure. Safe passages are needed for all people in need of protection,” says Gorden Isler, chairman of Sea-Eye e. V.


EU member states would not equip and pay armed militias to prevent Ukrainians from fleeing Ukraine to the European Union. But this is exactly what happens every day to other people seeking protection, with the EU working with the so-called Libyan Coast Guard and even using the latest military technology to stop people from fleeing Libya or to coordinate returns back to Libya,” Isler continues.

On the occasion of the SEA-EYE 4’s sixth rescue mission in total, Sea-Eye and German Doctors explicitly call on the German government to treat all fleeing people equally and to demand the same from all other European member states. Human rights apply universally to all people, regardless of their national or social origin, skin color, religion or other attributes. This means that EU member states must immediately deploy a governmental sea rescue mission in the Mediterranean and end any cooperation with the so-called Libyan Coast Guard.


The 6th rescue mission of the rescue ship SEA-EYE 4 is repeatedly supported by the Bonn-based aid organization German Doctors e. V.

As in the past, we supported this upcoming mission with full conviction, both financially and in terms of personnel. We are pleased to be able to send the very experienced emergency physician and German Doctors mission physician Dr. Daniela Klein on the SEA-EYE 4 for the third time. She and all of us see it as our moral duty to help people in need – regardless of their origin or other differentiating characteristics. This is what our association does in countries of the global south, in Greece, Ukraine and also on the Mediterranean Sea, as long as it is necessary and as long as we receive the necessary support. Of course, we hope that politicians will put an end to the suffering in the Mediterranean as quickly as possible, just as in Ukraine and in all other places in the world that are overshadowed by suffering,” said Dr. Harald Kischlat, Chairman of German Doctors e. V.

Embarkation Training

The Bonn-based aid organization is responsible for the medical care of the refugees on the SEA-EYE 4. An emergency doctor is also on board the rescue ship regularly.


Sea rescuers criticize unequal treatment of refugees

The German rescue ship SEA-EYE 4 docked in Augusta on Wednesday afternoon (04/06/2022) and all 106 rescued people were allowed to go ashore. The SEA-EYE 4 arrived off Sicily on Saturday after Malta repeatedly refused to disembark the rescued and has been waiting for a safe port to be assigned ever since. For the SEA-EYE 4 it was the first mission of the year. The mission was complicated by bad weather conditions.

Harald Kischlat, M.D., board member of German Doctors e. V. says: “The refugees on board the SEA-EYE 4 stayed on boats that were not suitable for the high seas for many days. They’re hypothermic, seasick, traumatized. It is irresponsible and inhumane to deny these people access to a safe port for an unnecessarily long time.

German Doctors e. V. is responsible for the medical care of the refugees on the SEA-EYE 4 and provides substantial support to Sea-Eye in running the on-board infirmary, furthermore there‘s also always a medical doctor aboard the ship.


We must now quickly see a change in policy towards all people seeking protection,” says Gorden Isler, Chairman of Sea-Eye e. V. “Otherwise politicians will have serious problems answering to the accusation that has been voiced for years – one of systemic racism that is preventing the rescue of refugees from Africa and Asia – hence this would only be proven to be true once again.

Sea-Eye criticizes the unequal treatment of people fleeing: civilian rescue ships still have to wait for days at ports of disembarkation for those seeking protection from Africa or Asia and even have to expect rejections, as in the case of the SEA-EYE 4 off Malta. The EU member states still disagree on the distribution of a few thousand people. Maltese and Italian rescue coordination centers are still refusing to coordinate emergencies at sea that have occurred in the Libyan search and rescue zone, and European authorities are still cooperating with the so-called Libyan Coast Guard to prevent people from fleeing the civil war in Libya.


All people have the right to seek protection and asylum within the EU. Skin color, gender, origin, religion or political beliefs must not be a reason for European authorities and politicians to make a difference. Human rights are unequivocal in this respect,” emphasizes Isler.

So far in 2022, 467 people have lost their lives trying to cross the Mediterranean to find protection and freedom in Europe. The current practice that is supported by the EU member states to have people intercepted by the so-called Libyan coast guard and thus reduce the number of arrivals in Europe only endangers human lives instead of saving them.

The so-called Libyan Coast Guard failed again last week and 90 people drowned in a serious shipwreck off Libya. Only four people survived and were illegally taken back to Libya by the merchant ship ALEGRIA 1 with no chance of a fair asylum procedure, instead they face imprisonment, torture and death.


A Ukrainian captain of the merchant ship KARINA decided just a few days before, with reference to the Geneva Refugee Convention and the situation in Libya, to ask the SEA-EYE 4 for support instead of continuing his course to Benghazi.

So-called Libyan Coast Guard prevents escape from civil war country Libya

On Wednesday afternoon, March 30, 2022, a distress call was forwarded to SEA-EYE 4, which the Alarm Phone reported to the responsible authorities. The rescue ship was already on its way to Malta because the mission was scheduled to end on Wednesday. But the SEA-EYE 4 was the only rescue ship east of Tripoli and therefore turned back. After several hours of sailing, the SEA-EYE 4 found the gray rubber boat with 74 people, including 22 children aboard. 15 people had to be treated in the ship’s sick bay. The refugees come from Egypt, Nigeria, Sudan, South Sudan and Syria. Together with the rescued people who were taken over by SEA-EYE 4 from a container ship on Tuesday, there are now a total of 106 rescued persons aboard the ship.

Another emergency call reported by Alarm Phone led to an all-night search for 90 people in distress on Wednesday. The search was unsuccessful and had to be interrupted on Thursday morning because the coordinates of another boat with 145 people in distress were reported to the ship. Before the SEA-EYE 4 could reach the boat in distress, Alarm Phone had already reported an illegal push-back by the so-called Libyan Coast Guard.

With the renewal of the IRINI mandate, the federal government declared that the Libyan coast guard could no longer be supported and trained, but here in the Libyan rescue zone we will continue to be eyewitnesses to returns that violate international law,” says Gorden Isler, Chairman of Sea-Eye e. V.

There is no information about the whereabouts of 90 people, even if the probability of a push-back is very high in this case as well.

A shipwreck that nobody will ever talk about again, because it’s obviously become normality for us in Europe that black people fleeing to suffer such a fate is unfortunately also a possibility,” Isler continues.

The SEA-EYE 4 must now find a safe place to disembark 106 people from six different countries of origin.

If the people hadn’t been rescued, it would have been very unlikely that they would have survived, because the weather has changed suddenly in the last few days,” says Isler.

On Tuesday, 32 people were rescued from a small fishing boat by the container ship KARINA in 4 m waves. Hagen Kopp from Alarm Phone called Tuesday’s escape attempt “completely desperate” because the people on this route had “little chance of survival” without rescue by a container ship.The SEA-EYE 4 will enter Maltese waters on Friday, one day before the Pope’s visit. A meeting with migrants in a Catholic reception center is also planned.

Perhaps an unequivocal appeal by the Pope to the Maltese government can make Malta, as the closest EU state, feel responsible for 106 people seeking protection,” says Isler.


German shipowner of the KARINA calls SEA-EYE 4 for help off Libya

On Monday afternoon, March 28, 2022, the crew of the merchant ship KARINA, under the command of the Ukrainian captain Vasyl Maksymenko, saved 32 people who were fleeing from drowning in international waters off Libya. The merchant ship of the North German KLINGENBERG Bereederungs- & Befrachtungs GmbH & Co. KG, a shipping company from Ellerbek, was on its way from Malta to Benghazi when it was made aware of the distress call at sea by the aid organization Alarm Phone.

The boat was in grave danger of capsizing. The people aboard wouldn’t have survived that. The waves had already reached four meters since their departure. They would not have been able to get anywhere on their own,” says Vasyl Maksymenko, captain of the KARINA.

At that time, the SEA-EYE 4 was around 50 hours away from the emergency and was unable to provide any immediate assistance. However, the rescue ship and its operations management, together with numerous state and other non-state actors, were involved in the correspondence on the distress at sea.

Due to the dramatic exchange of information on the case, the SEA-EYE 4 contacted the merchant ship KARINA and offered support. At the same time, SEA-EYE 4’s operations management contacted the owner of the KARINA to signal their willingness to help.

Shipowner Thies Klingenberg was immediately aware of the difficult situation.

It’s not the first time that we’ve rescued people from the Mediterranean Sea. However, our ships are not suitable for the catering and medical treatment of shipwrecked persons,” says Klingenberg.

On Monday afternoon, the shipping company and Captain Maksymenko asked the SEA-EYE 4 for help.

The flag state of KARINA, Antigua and Barbuda, has signed the Geneva Refugee Convention,” wrote Captain Maksymenko to SEA-EYE 4. The rescued people must be taken to a place of safety. “A safe place is a place where the lives of survivors are not threatened and where their basic human needs can be met. The protection of their basic rights must be taken into account: For refugees, this means that they must not be forced back into a war zone. This prohibits bringing people who’re fleeing back to Libya!” Maksymenko continues.

The KARINA and the SEA-EYE 4 agreed on a rendezvous and met on Tuesday afternoon, around 55 nautical miles from the Libyan coast. A team of doctors and the head of mission of SEA-EYE 4 boarded the KARINA to assess the situation. According to their own statements, the fleeing people stayed on their wooden boat for at least three days. Therefore, some of the rescued people are currently being treated for hypothermia and dehydration in the ship’s sick bay. The captains of both ships assessed the situation and concluded that the SEA-EYE 4 is the more suitable and safer vessel for the 32 survivors. Hence, Sea-Eye operations management then agreed to take the rescued people aboard.


We have enough provisions, accommodation and an onboard hospital to safely take aboard such a number of people for a short period of time,” says Gorden Isler, Chairman of Sea-Eye e. V.

The SEA-EYE 4 has a so-called Rescue Notation from its classification society, and the Italian Coast Guard confirmed the SEA-EYE 4’s suitability for short-term care for up to 200 people after technical adjustments in the summer of 2021, if a safe port can be reached in a timely manner to disembark survivors.

The SEA-EYE 4 will be heading for Malta in the next few hours.

Malta is the closest EU member state. We will ask for a disembarkation port there,” says Isler.

However, Malta has been closing its ports for the disembarkation of people rescued from distress for several years. The last time that a Sea-Eye ship was allowed to bring rescued people to safety in Malta was in the summer of 2019. Since then, Maltese policy towards people fleeing has become increasingly defensive.


We will now see whether the Geneva Convention on Refugees is just as important to Malta as it was to the Ukrainian Captain Maksymenko, who prevented a push-back to a war zone in violation of international law,” Isler continues.

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.