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.


Disembarkation expected for Christmas Eve

The SEA-EYE 4 was finally assigned a port of safety in Pozzallo in the afternoon of December 23rd. The rescue ship will arrive at the port on December 24th around 7:30 a.m. “We hope that people will be able to go ashore soon and not have to spend the Christmas days on board,” says Gorden Isler, chairman of Sea-Eye e. V. Many of the rescued people had to receive medical treatment aboard and they are going to continue to need medical care on land.

The crew of SEA-EYE 4 had rescued 223 people in the Maltese search, rescue and coordination zone in a total of four rescue operations on December 16 and 17, but Malta had refused to take over the coordination of these cases. While the SEA-EYE 4 waited for a whole week for the assignment a port of safety, 9 people had to be evacuated by the Italian coast guard for medical reasons in 4 medical evacuations.


We are infinitely relieved that people are finally allowed to go ashore. It is significant that even on Christmas Eve people are brought to safety by sea rescuers. The humanitarian crisis does not make Christmas vacation. We are particularly grateful to the civil society sea rescue alliance United4Rescue, who made this additional rescue mission possible. It saved the lives of another 223 people,” says Isler.

In total, the SEA-EYE 4 has rescued over 1400 people from distress at sea during four rescue missions in 2021.

Malta is violating its duty to rescue boats in distress

Since the SEA-EYE 4 arrived in the Maltese search and rescue zone on Thursday, December 16, 2021, numerous reports of boats in distress have reached the rescue ship. In total, the crew of the SEA-EYE 4 rescued a total of 223 people in four rescue operations. Among them are 29 women, 7 of whom are pregnant, and 8 children. The crew is currently looking for another boat in distress.

Although further boats carrying numerous people in acute distress have been reported at sea since yesterday, Malta has once again failed to fulfill its obligation to coordinate distress cases at sea and rescue these people. Civil sea rescue organizations are currently the only European forces looking for people and trying to bring them to safety. Since the weather is expected to deteriorate significantly soon, the chances of survival for people who are still at sea decrease significantly.

On the one hand, I am grateful that the SEA-EYE 4 was able to save many people once again. At the same time, it is hard to bear that we have to assume that no help at all came for some of the boats in danger. Civil sea rescue capacities are important, but also limited. The cold-blooded ignorance of the EU costs us human lives – the sea-grave is growing, even if we constantly fight against it. The people who drowned in agony simply wanted a life in safety to which they were entitled – and we deny it to them. But what right do we have to elevate ourselves above these people and their fate?” says Sophie Weidenhiller, spokeswoman for Sea-Eye e. V.

The survivors on board the SEA-EYE 4 are currently being cared for and medically treated by the crew. One child has a broken arm and another has a broken finger. Two pregnant women have stomach pains and several people have had to be treated for chemical burns and hypothermia.

It is shocking how many people flee across the Mediterranean in overcrowded, completely unsuitable boats, regardless of the dangers. And it is deeply inhuman that the EU continues to leave the rescue of these desperate people to NGOs like us. Shortly before the turn of the year, we hope that politics will finally change in 2022 and that the dying at the deadliest sea border will come to an end,” said Dr. Christine Winkelmann, Head of German Doctors e. V. The aid organization supports the Sea-Eye rescue operations financially and with medical staff and expertise.

It is wonderful news that our alliance ship SEA-EYE 4 was already able to rescue 223 people during this mission. And a message that fits Christmas! As United4Rescue, we are particularly pleased that the SKYBIRD aircraft discovered the first two emergencies at sea – because United4Rescue only recently provided financial assistance to put this new reconnaissance aircraft into operation. We very much hope that the crew of the SEA-EYE 4 will save even more lives on this Christmas mission,” says Liza Pflaum, board member of United4Rescue.


Sea rescue alliance covers costs for fourth rescue mission

On Saturday afternoon, Dec. 11, 2021, the rescue ship SEA-EYE 4 set out on its fourth rescue mission. The departure was largely made possible by the sea rescue alliance United4Rescue, which is collecting donations under the keyword #ChristmasMission to be able to finance the mission of the Sea-Eye rescue ship. The SEA-EYE 4 is the second alliance ship of United4Rescue. The alliance had already contributed significantly to the purchase costs of the SEA-EYE 4 rescue ship.

We are really very grateful to the alliance United4Rescue. It combines the forces of more than 800 organizations and now ensures that we are able to set off on our fourth mission,” says Gorden Isler, Chairman of Sea-Eye e. V.

The fact that our alliance ship SEA-EYE 4 is now leaving for her Christmas mission and will save lives is good news! The fact that we as United4Rescue can make this mission possible thanks to countless donations also shows: There are very, very many people who do not agree with the European policy of isolation and do not want to be jointly responsible for the suffering and dying at the EU’s external borders,” says Liza Pflaum, board member of United4Rescue e. V.

The joint crews of the Regensburg-based sea rescuers of Sea-Eye e. V. and the Bonn-based aid organization German Doctors e. V. have already saved 1,194 lives in their three missions with the SEA-EYE 4. In the process, German Doctors e. V. substantially contributed to the construction and operation of the SEA-EYE 4’s onboard hospital. On the third rescue mission in November 2021, the crew came to the aid of 757 people after Malta refused to coordinate several maritime emergencies and rescue people from a wooden boat overloaded with 400 people.

The EU is still doing too little to prevent deaths in the Mediterranean. Together with our partners, we will therefore continue to support the necessary, life-saving missions of the SEA-EYE 4 in the coming year,” said Dr. Harald Kischlat, board member of German Doctors e. V.

The SEA-EYE 4 will reach its area of operation before the 4th of Advent. The crew will continue to train for emergencies on the way there. The 25-member crew is expected to keep watch in the operational area on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Mission Lifeline und SEA-EYE 4

SEA-EYE 4 expected to reach Trapani on Sunday afternoon

On Saturday evening, the Italian Coast Guard informed the bridge of the SEA-EYE 4 that the Italian authorities had designated Trapani as the port of disembarkation for the more than 800 rescued people. The Foreign Office confirmed the assignment a few minutes later.

The SEA-EYE 4 is expected to reach the port of Trapani on Sunday afternoon. Until then, the rescued persons will spend the third night on board the ship. Some of them are already spending their fifth night on board. The weather deteriorated visibly in the past hours. The Italian coast guard allowed the SEA-EYE 4 to approach the coast earlier to find shelter from the wind and weather.

From Tuesday to Thursday, the ships SEA-EYE 4 of Sea-Eye e. V. and RISE ABOVE of Mission Lifeline e. V. saved more than 800 lives within 48 hours in 7 joint operations. Sea-Eye is supported on board by the Bonn-based organization German Doctors e. V. with an on-board doctor and financial support for hospital operations.

© Hermine Poschmann & Mission Lifeline

Our mission doctor Daniela Klein and the entire crew have done an unimaginable job in the last few days – over 800 rescued people have pushed not only the ship itself, but everyone on board to the limit. It is imperative that those rescued can receive medical care ashore. That is why we are incredibly relieved that the SEA-EYE 4 can now head for a safe port and that the people will be brought to safety after many days of uncertainty,” said Dr Harald Kischlat, Chairman of German Doctors e. V.

We are relieved and overjoyed that the difficult hours for our crew and the rescued people will end on Sunday and that these people will then finally be safe in Italy. We are appalled that Malta’s failure to provide assistance led to such an exceptional situation. The EU states must urgently admonish Malta to ensure that the Rescue Coordination Center in Valletta finally responds to emergency calls again and coordinates sea emergencies, regardless of the color of the skin or the origin of the people who are in distress at sea,” says Gorden Isler, Chairman of Sea-Eye e. V.

After days of uncertainty, it is finally clear: SEA-EYE 4 has been assigned a safe port. It is a matter of honour that we accompany them to Trapani and continue to do everything we can to support them in any way we can. We are happy that the many exhausted people will finally be allowed to arrive,” says Axel Steier, board member of Mission Lifeline e. V.

Mission Lifeline and SEA-EYE 4

More than 800 people have been waiting for a safe port for 2 days

On Saturday morning, Mission Lifeline e. V.’s RISE ABOVE delivered urgently needed relief supplies to the SEA-EYE 4 of Sea-Eye e. V. The rescue ship’s crew has been taking care of more than 800 rescued people on board since the night from Wednesday to Thursday. Food and blankets are scarce, so the delivery from the RISE ABOVE was urgently needed. The relief supplies include food and warm blankets.

There are still around 800 people on board the SEA-EYE 4, who were rescued jointly by Sea-Eye, Mission Lifeline and German Doctors within 48 hours. Well over 200 people are minors, including many children under the age of 10. Five women are pregnant. An exact count has not been possible so far, because the crew of 24 has been busy taking care of the rescued people on board. More than 200 people have had to be treated for various medical needs in the onboard hospital by German Doctors doctor Daniela Klein so far.

Mission Lifeline and SEA-EYE 4
© Hermine Poschmann & Mission Lifeline

“Our shipboard doctor reported to the Head of Mission that the hospital crew is currently treating around 25 people on a permanent basis. The causes include hypothermia, severe complaints of seasickness or high blood pressure. But there are also injuries that were inflicted on the survivors during the escape, which indicate torture. We must urgently point out that these people should be given medical treatment on land as soon as possible and therefore there must be no stand-off here,” says Dr Christine Winkelmann, Chairperson of German Doctors e. V.

“At present, we receive more support from the small Dresden-based sea rescue organization Mission Lifeline than from all EU states together! In order for the exceptional humanitarian situation on the SEA-EYE 4 to end, the more than 800 rescued people must be assigned a safe port without delay. Our crew is working at the limits of what is humanly possible. Negotiations on the distribution of the rescued can be conducted even while they are being cared for on land. The ship must be allowed to dock immediately to ensure the safety of all those rescued and the crew,” demands Gorden Isler, chairman of Sea-Eye e. V.

„In Germany, more than 200 cities and municipalities are ready to take in people. Time and again, discussions about the distribution of survivors and people seeking protection are only intensively conducted once they are on board a German rescue ship. Together, we therefore call on the current and future German government to be generous in taking in people seeking protection and to show more solidarity with Mediterranean countries like Italy and Greece,” said Axel Steier, Chairman of Mission Lifeline e. V.

The SEA-EYE 4 and the RISE ABOVE had rescued over 800 people in 7 rescue missions within 48 hours since Tuesday, 02.11.2021. Since Thursday, the SEA-EYE 4 has been looking for a safe port for the rescued people.