Odyssey of the ALAN KURDI rescue ship ends

Red Cross evacuates 146 rescued people to Italian quarantine ship

  • Unprecedented solidarity for ALAN KURDI’s mission
  • German Federal Ministry of the Interior appealed to NGOs to stop rescue operations
  • ALAN KURDI crew to spend 14 days in quarantine

After an almost two-week blockade, the odyssey of the German rescue ship ALAN KURDI ended on Friday, close to the port of Palermo. Already on Easter Sunday, the Italian Minister of Transport Paola De Micheli and the head of Civil Protection Angelo Borelli proposed to transfer the rescued people on board the German rescue ship onto a larger, more suitable ship , where they could be quarantined and also receive proper care in a safe environment. Finally, on Thursday evening, the Italian and German authorities confirmed the proposition’s concrete implementation for Friday morning.

“The situation on the ALAN KURDI has been unbearable for days. We are infinitely relieved that this blockade is finally over,” said Jan Ribbeck, Head of Operations for Sea-Eye.

Red Cross evacuates 146 rescued people to Italian quarantine ship

Under the coordination of the Italian Red Cross, the evacuation of 146 rescued people onto the Italian passenger ship RAFFAELE RUBATTINO began on Friday afternoon. Several ships of the Italian coast guard, including the DICIOTTI, were involved in the transfer of people to the RAFFAELE RUBATTINO.


On the Italian ferry, people are now to be quarantined for another 14 days. So far, it is still unclear how it will go on for the people afterwards. Italy has temporarily closed its ports for the disembarkation of people rescued from distress at sea, due to the general health emergency. To date, the authorities have not published any plans about a port of disembarkation and the distribution of refugees.

“It is now very important to think about the rescued people on the Spanish ship AITA MARI. About 40 people are still waiting for a humanitarian solution on this ship as well,” said Gorden Isler, Chairman of Sea-Eye.

Unprecedented solidarity for ALAN KURDI’s mission

During the blockade, Sea-Eye and the ALAN KURDI experienced unprecedented solidarity, particularly in Italy. After a letter from Luca Casarini, the Italian sea rescuer, to Pope Francis, the head of the Catholic church, replied and unequivocally stood behind all civilian sea rescuers. However, the commitment of the Mayor of Palermo deserves special mention. Leoluca Orlando was in frequent contact with Head of Operations Jan Ribbeck and asked about the people on the ALAN KURDI every day.

“It can be said that Leoluca Orlando was an important advocate for the human rights of the rescued people and also our crew on the ALAN KURDI. His commitment was essential for the end of this blockade,” said Sea-Eye’s Head of Operations Jan Ribbeck.

But the sea rescuers from Mediterranea and Sea-Watch-Italy also appealed to the government in Rome. They campaigned for civil sea rescue operations to continue and for the ships ALAN KURDI and AITA MARI to be assigned ports of safety. Such a solution is still not in sight for the AITA MARI.

Federal Interior Ministry appealed to NGOs to stop rescue operations

During the rescue 11 days ago, a letter from the German Federal Ministry of the Interior had reached operations management. It called on German civil sea rescue organizations to cease operations and, if necessary, to recall all ships because of the lack of ports of disembarkation in the central Mediterranean. At this point, the ALAN KURDI had already successfully saved 150 lives.

“You cannot ask us to stop saving lives, while simultaneously, the same politicians in Germany are demanding that everything humanly possible be done to save as many lives as possible,” said Gorden Isler, Chairman of Sea-Eye.

ALAN KURDI crew to spend 14 days in quarantine at anchor

The ALAN KURDI crew is now also facing a 14-day quarantine. The ship shall be anchored off Palermo. The next planned Sea-Eye rescue mission falls victim to these circumstances. However, the corona crisis did not only lead to operational problems. Like many NGOs, Sea-Eye recorded a substantial decrease in donations.

“We want to do everything we can to start a rescue operation in May. Letting people drown because of the Corona crisis is just as bad a reason as any other reason that has been claimed in this debate,” said Gorden Isler, chairman of Sea-Eye.