Evacuation by the Italian coast guard

Italian coast guard evacuates one person during the night of Good Friday

  • ALAN KURDI does not receive any food, medicine or fuel from Italy
  • Italian coast guard evacuates a person from board off the coast of Lampedusa
  • Italy, Malta and Libya describe their own ports as unsafe
  • German maritime rescue coordination centre overwhelmed with coordination
  • ALAN KURDI is looking for shelter in the northwest of Sicily due to weather

It took the Italian rescue directing centre MRCC ROME about one day to refuse ALAN KURDI-Captain Bärbel Beuse’s request for food, medicine and fuel. The required vessels for this transport would not be available on the islands of Lampedusa and Linosa. Italy referred to Malta. The Maltese rescue coordination centre reacted promptly: “Do not try to push this onto Malta.” Thus, the rescue directing centre in Valletta made clear that Malta is also not willing to help.

The situation on board of the ALAN KURDI is getting more tense, as the rescue ship is not suitable for the indefinite accommodation of 150 people. During the night, Captain Bärbel Beuse insisted and repeated her requests for the most urgent needs:

We have to stress that the ship requires food in the next 48 hours.

In the meantime, Libya, just as Italy and Malta, declared its own ports as unsafe for the disembarkation and care for people rescued from distress at sea. Currently, Libya is forbidding a ship of the so-called Libyan Coast Guard with 280 people to run into a Libyan port. The Libyan Coast Guard declared in the meantime that it could not conduct any further rescues since no face masks were available. Vincent Cochetel, special envoy of the United Nations, states to Spiegel Online that the people smugglers could exploit this situation and lie to fleeing people if necessary. In fact, over the last few days, fleeing people reached the Italian island Lampedusa in several boats under great danger. How many boats disappeared on the Mediterranean and how many people drowned is unknown.

It is not acceptable that we see multi-million rescue packages for the European industry, but at the same time, it’s claimed that there are no resources for the protection of migrants”, states Gorden Isler, chairman of Sea-Eye e.V. “Europe has thus allowed a situation to happen where humanitarian catastrophes compete and are played off against each other”, Isler states further.

The German maritime rescue coordination centre in Bremen stated in the night of Good Friday that it is overwhelmed with the coordination of the German ship’s situation.

The MRCC Bremen wrote to their colleagues in Rome: “I am fully aware of the brisance of the actual situation but MRCC Bremen is not able to respond as you expect or hope for.”

Friday noon, the ALAN KURDI set course towards a position northwest of Sicily to seek shelter from approaching heavy weather. Sea-Eye informed German authorities of this decision in the morning already.

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.

Sea-Eye rescue ship saves 68 people in international
waters off Libyan coast

  • ALAN KURDI saved 68 people
  • Libyan militia hinders rescue operation and fires
  • People desperately jumped into the water
  • ALAN KURDI on the way to a second
    boat in distress

On Monday morning, the ALAN KURDI crew received an emergency call via the NGO Alarm Phone. Captain Bärbel Beuse informed the responsible authorities and set course for the coordinates transmitted by Alarm Phone. An hour later ALAN KURDI reached the position. Upon arrival the crew found a wooden boat with a total of 68 people. None of the people had a life jacket.

While the crew of the ALAN KURDI launched their first rescue boat, a Libyan-flagged speedboat approached at high speed. The shots fired and risky maneuvers by the Libyans quickly led to a life-threatening escalation of the situation. Around half of the people from the overcrowded wooden boat jumped into the water and tried to reach the ALAN KURDI on their own.

“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.

The rescue boat crews quickly dispatched lifesaving appliances to the water to prevent people from drowning.

The captain informed the German authorities
of the Libyan threat. After a short time things calmed down and the Libyans
finally allowed the rescue of people in the water, the supply of people with
life jackets on the wooden boat and the subsequent evacuation of the refugees remaining in
the wooden boat. All of the 68 people
were saved. The Libyans immediately abstracted the wooden boat and disappeared.
Some of the rescued people are in shock or are hypothermic and are therefore receiving medical
care. The vast majority of those saved said they are from
Bangladesh, a few are from Syria, Chad or Sudan. 20 people
state that they are minors.

“With their behavior, the Libyans risked the drowning of many people. While the EU member states pay money to so-called Libyan coast guards, our crew is once again hindered and threatened while saving lives,” said Gorden Isler, Chairman of Sea-Eye e. V.

The ALAN KURDI was also notified of another distress case. The ship is already on its way there.

ALAN KURDI in the Mediterranean

Safety precautions of the highest level are taken in the event of a corona outbreak on board

  • Sea-Eye ship ready to rescue again after several weeks of shipyard break
  • ALAN KURDI will be the only rescue ship in the area
  • Crew of the “Sea-Watch 4” carries out final repairs
  • new safety precautions in case of a corona outbreak

After an eight-week break, the German rescue ship ALAN KURDI is now back in service. More than 60 volunteers prepared the ALAN KURDI for 2020. On Monday afternoon, the Spanish authorities gave the green light to cast off. In the meantime, the crew of German captain Bärbel Beuse and the Austrian head of mission Stefan Schütz have reached international waters.

“Despite all the difficulties, my crew showed up, trained and is ready for action. How could we stay in port now when not a single rescue vessel is currently present? As human beings, it is our duty to do everything reasonable to save other people’s lives ”, says Bärbel Beuse, captain of ALAN KURDI.

It’s the second time Beuse is commanding a rescue mission aboard ALAN KURDI.

“Sea-Eye was founded to save people from drowning. Every single life is of immeasurable value. No human life is dispensable or less valuable. That is why the ALAN KURDI is on its way to action”, explains Gorden Isler, Chairman of Sea-Eye e. V., regarding the mission during the corona crisis.

The sea rescuers are facing great difficulties when it comes to getting assigned a safe harbor, should they have to conduct rescue operations.

“Even in this crisis, we rely on the responsibility and courageous political action of our flag state. We are in close contact with the German authorities”, continues Isler.

Due to the corona crisis, the operational management of the association has taken further security precautions and established an “outbreak management plan”.

“German high sea vessels have the highest security requirements anyway. In addition, we have sufficient personal protective equipment for our crew on board”, says Jan Ribbeck, mission manager.

The ALAN KURDI is expected to reach the Libyan search and rescue zone this weekend.

Due to the Corona crisis, no civil sea rescue organization has been able to send a rescue ship to the central Mediterranean for weeks. Travel restrictions have severely affected the arrival and departure of crew members. The United Nations’ International Organization for Migration (IOM) recently reported that hundreds of refugees were prevented from fleeing the ongoing civil war by the so-called Libyan coast guard. How many people vanished at sea unnoticed in recent weeks is unknown.

“It is a miracle that we were able to put together a crew, train them and prepare them for the special circumstances”, says Isler.

Due to the Corona crisis, repairs on ALAN KURDI could not be completed on schedule. Many shipyard workers had to return to their families early. Most recently, the crew members of the new rescue ship “Sea-Watch 4” helped to complete the repairs. The “Sea-Watch 4” is also being prepared for its first rescue operation in Burriana. The ALAN KURDI is currently the only rescue ship that is on its way to the Libyan search and rescue zone.

Sea-Eye vessel awaiting scheduled maintenance works in Spanish shipyard

  • Maltese Army evacuates 78 rescued people
  • Situation in Libya out of control, according to UNHCR
  • Rescued people report traumatic experiences at sea
  • Sea-Eye collects donations for maintenance work

Last Saturday, the tenth crew of the German rescue ship ALAN KURDI saved a total of 78 lives from two unseaworthy boats. Four days later, the Maltese Army evacuated the rescued at sea. On Sunday, the Maltese authorities had still refused to disembark the rescued. Malta had declared that it is neither responsible nor has additional capacity to accommodate those rescued and seeking protection, and that there would be an agreement with other EU member states. Therefore, the ship was instructed to contact the nearest coastal state.

Despite the bad weather and overall dangerous flight conditions, a particularly large number of people are fleeing Libya these days. Aid organizations such as Sea-Eye have saved around 800 people in the past few days. The UNHCR said a week ago that the situation in Libya was “out of control” and that “minimal security standards for refugees” could no longer be guaranteed. The attempt to revive the European naval mission “Sophia” failed due to the governments of Austria and Italy.

Aboard the ALAN KURDI, 78 rescued people from 20 different countries of origin had to wait for a port of safety to be assigned to the ship. Some of the rescued reported spending three days on their journey and crossing the Bouri Oilfield. A cargo ship had crossed their course but simply ignored and avoided them. The rescued from the second boat reported to Sea-Eye’s human rights observer that they were terrified when several sharks circled their boat.

When head of mission Johanna Pohl informed the rescued people on Tuesday evening that they will be picked up by a Maltese military ship to be taken to Malta, many refugees expressed great fear of being brought back to Libya. It was only with great effort that the crew was able to calm the people down and convincingly convey that this is not the reason why Malta is not letting the ALAN KURDI go to port in Malta.

The ALAN KURDI has now set course for the Spanish port of Burriana. There, the 70-year-old rescue ship will be subjected to scheduled maintenance. The last time the ALAN KURDI was in dry dock was in May. Since then, the ship has completed seven other missions. Not a single mission was completed without one or several rescues.

“We will never forget these many, difficult hours. Now we have to collect up to € 120,000 for the maintenance and replacement of two generators. We hope that we can start the eleventh mission mid-March, ” said Gorden Isler – Chairman, Sea-Eye e. V.

The Regensburg sea rescuers will then be able to continue operations for the rest of the year.

Rescue Ship ALAN KURDI Saves 78 Lives

On Saturday morning the German rescue ship ALAN KURDI of the Regensburg NGO Sea-Eye e. V. was informed of an emergency at sea. The organization Watch the Med – Alarmphone received an emergency call from the people on board the inflatable boat and forwarded it to the rescue ship and the responsible authorities.

After several hours the boat was found around 9:00 a.m. At that point, water was already entering the rubber dinghy, the shell of which was made of thin material, similar to truck tarpaulin. There are 8 women and 7 children among the 62 rescued, the youngest child is just six months old.

A short time after the rescue, a ship of the so-called Libyan coast guard was also on site and instructed the ALAN KURDI to leave the Libyan search and rescue zone.

“The so-called Libyan coast guard treats the search and rescue zone like territorial waters, repeatedly harasses civilian rescue workers and issues illegal instructions. They do not posess this authority at all and these militia, supported by the EU, are consciously accepting risking human lives,” says head of mission Johanna Pohl from aboard the ship.

Only a few minutes after the first rescue, ALAN KURDI received a call to render assistance from a cargo ship that had sighted a boat in distress. The ALAN KURDI reached the boat with 16 people on it in the early afternoon and proceeded to evacuate them from the unseaworthy boat. Three of the rescued people were severely dehydrated and had to receive medical treatment on board immediately.

Even though the allocation of a port of safety for rescue ships has improved in recent weeks, it is still too early to speak of a normalization of sea rescue according to international law standards.

“It is a legal obligation to bring people to a safe place as quickly as possible. Even if we see approaches of a distribution mechanism, the protection of people must be the top priority. The EU and all its member states must support Italy in this and act in solidarity in the European sense. The Mediterranean cannot be left unprotected,” says Sea-Eye spokesman Julian Pahlke.

After a long phase with bad weather and high seas, the ALAN KURDI set off on January 17th for the search and rescue area. The ship has been patrolling the central Mediterranean for the past few days. The German-Spanish crew consists of rescue workers from Sea-Eye and the Spanish aid organization Proem Aid.

The Security Of The People In Libya Must Have Top Priority

A few days after Sea-Eye founder Michael Buschheuer was awarded the Georg Elser Prize for special civil courage and civil disorder in Munich for the founding the civil sea rescue organization Sea-Eye, the German government received dictators and warlords in the German capital the following Sunday.

On the occasion of the so-called Libya Summit in Berlin, Sea-Eye is addressing important demands to the Federal Government and the Chancellor.

Europe must find a way to a human rights-based and humanitarian common foreign policy. The federal government must use its influence to promote peace in Libya and to create safe shelters for refugees in Libya who should ideally be under the control of the United Nations instead of Libyan militia officers, traffickers or warlords. Cooperating with an opaque, violent network of Libyan coast guards must be replaced by a European naval operation designed to save as many people as possible from drowning. Civil sea rescue organizations must be supported and promoted in their efforts to save lives. The maritime rescue control centers in Rome and Valletta must return to cooperating with the aid organizations. Working together saved tens of thousands of lives between 2016 and 2018. Families with children and unaccompanied minors must be evacuated from Libya immediately for humanitarian reasons. The best way to combat human trafficking and smugglers is by using humanitarian corridors and safe escape routes.

“How can you, on the one hand, seriously negotiate with warlords about a ceasefire in Libya and at the same time have come to the view that it is okay to systematically prevent people from fleeing and force them back to this country of civil war?” asks Gorden Isler, chairman of Sea-Eye.

Together with other EU member states, the Federal Government supports and finances the so-called Libyan coast guard to intercept people fleeing over the Mediterranean sea and bring them back to the civil war country. Experts on international law speak of an undermining of basic human rights.

“It is precisely through this cycle of uncontrollable camps, intercepting people in the Mediterranean and returning them to these camps that an unbearable mechanism of systematic human rights violations emerged, the political architects of which are located in the governments of Europe,” said Julian Pahlke, spokesman for Sea-Eye.

The rescue ship ALAN KURDI itself was attacked and threatened by an armed Libyan militia during an emergency rescue operation at sea in October 2019. For the so-called Zuwara Maritime Police, this incident had no consequences. A rescued woman told the human rights observer on board ALAN KURDI in November that she had to watch a Somali woman’s newborn baby being fed to a wild dog in a Libyan camp.

“The federal government cannot call the reduced number of asylum applications in Germany and Europe a success, while the people in Libya pay the highest possible price for it. The crimes against the people of Libya go beyond the meaning of the word violence. We expect that the safety of fleeing people has top priority in the talks in Berlin. The federal government is responsible,” continues Isler.

The rescue ship ALAN KURDI left the port of Palermo on Friday afternoon and is on its way to the central Mediterranean. The goal: Saving Lives. Because a lot of people are still trying to flee across the Mediterranean.

At the end of 2019, we look back and see many individual fates that we were fortunately able to help. We would like to introduce four of these people to you and show you what your help can do.

Mission of 2nd Christmas Eve comes to a good end

  • ALAN KURDI docks in Pozzallo
  • 32 rescued persons can go ashore
  • Malta refused to evacuate weakened women and children
  • Guiseppe Conte announced a revision of the strict security policy

The German rescue ship ALAN KURDI docked in the port of Pozzallo on Sunday morning. The 32 survivors sent an emergency call to the aid organization AlarmPhone on Christmas Eve. The Libyan authorities and the civil rescue ships ALAN KURDI and OCEAN VIKING were informed immediately. During the night from Thursday to Friday, the crew of the Regensburg organization found a total of 32 people in a crowded plastic boat. All survivors stated that they were Libyan citizens.

Already on Saturday evening, the head of mission of the ALAN KURDI rescue ship was informed about the assignment of a port of safety by the Italian MRCC. The ship had only been present in the Italian search and rescue zone for a few hours. Earlier on Saturday, the ship had requested an emergency evacuation of ten of the people aboard from the authorities at the Maltese MRCC. Two women and several children had consumed no food or water due to seasickness and stress and were therefore dehydrated. The Maltese rescue control center declined to evacuate.

“We are really relieved that the rescued people no longer had to wait on board our ship. We were increasingly concerned about the medical condition of some people and the upcoming storm,“ said chairman Gorden Isler.

The human rights observer on board the ALAN KURDI interviewed some survivors. One man reported that was to be conscripted for mandatory military service in the Libyan civil war and fled because he did not want to kill people. He and his partner further stated that they considered the crossing the Mediterranean as a last resort. Sea-Eye is still evaluating the interviews.

On Saturday the Italian President Guiseppe Conte stated that he wants to revise Salvini’s security policy. Under the former Minister of the Interior, Matteo Salvini, draconian sanctions against rescue workers and rescue vessels were introduced.

Julian Pahlke, spokesman for Sea-Eye on the political developments in Italy: “Salvini’s policy of closed ports must end immediately. The so-called security packages have not only fueled the xenophobic climate, they also contradict international law and fundamental human rights. The President’s announcement must now be followed up with action. We have to find a humanitarian view of this crisis at our shared external borders. At the same time, however, all EU member states must support the Mediterranean countries and agree on a joint distribution of all the people saved.“