Dear friends of Sea-Watch,
Today, exactly one year after the embarkation of Sea-Watch 1 from Hamburg, our new flagship Sea-Watch 2 will launch its rescue mission on the Central Mediterranean Sea. I want to use this opportunity to thank you all for your tremendous support in making this possible, and inform you about the ongoing Sea-Watch missions.
The last couple of months were marked by the conversion of Sea-Watch 2 into a Search and Rescue vessel, extensive repairs on our old Sea-Watch 1, and primarily our ongoing mission in the Aegean, where we have been able to save the lives of thousands of refugees. The number of ships in distress already surpasses last year’s figures at this time of year, and the summer is yet to come. Our very motivated first crew has embarked from Malta yesterday to start their mission, and we depend on your continued contribution to proceed our Search and Rescue mission.
Last year, in the face of the worst catastrophe to this day, that killed 700 people in a single shipwreck, I used my appearance at German television talk show “Günther Jauch” to hold a one-minute silence on screen. I had hoped that things might take a turn for the better.
That very same day Sea-Watch 1 embarked from Hamburg, and we were able over the summer to save more than 2000 people in distress at sea, thanks to your tremendous support. Unfortunately, the situation has all but worsened, and an end to our mission is unforeseeable. In a horrible déjà vu, this year again hundreds are feared to have died at sea, as Sea-Watch 2 was embarking from Malta yesterday.
Sea-Watch 2 mission launched in the Central Mediterranean
The Sea-Watch 2 has become a symbol of the continuous failure of the European Union, whose efforts to seal herself off cost the lives of thousands of people at sea. We are both happy at the fact that we are able to launch our first Sea-Watch 2 mission today, and sad that we continue to have to do so.
Thanks to the many helping hands and generous donations, we were able equip a larger and more modern ship than our “old lady” Sea-Watch 1 with improved technics and a mobile medical operating theatre. The crew, made up of experienced seamen, doctors and mechanics will be able to conduct their mission for longer periods of time and more reliably than on Sea-Watch 1.
With our work we also want to highlight the catastrophic situation of refugees at sea, who embark on perilous routes in non-seaworthy rubber or wooden boats, without experienced skipper, navigation, drinking water or rescue equipment. All owing to the European Union’s reliance on deterrence rather than on humanity and protection from war, violence and prosecution. By blocking migration routes and securing ominous political deals with third countries such as Turkey, even more deaths are, at the very least, condoned by the officials.
Update on the Aegean
The recent EU-Turkey treaty serves to seal off Europe, and deter people from seeking asylum within its borders. Its content is highly controversial and shows the disrespect of one of the core values of our community, which is mutual solidarity. People fleeing from prosecution and war are denied their right to seek asylum, and are deported to an insecure third party country.
Together with our partner organisation CADUS we will continue to be present in the Aegean. Even though the numbers of arrivals are fluctuating, our crew was able to save a boat in distress only yesterday, and every life counts. As long as reasons to flee continue to exist, people will continue to embark on these hazardous journeys, be it across the Central Mediterranean sea or in the Aegean. The EU treaty will only further stimulate the deadly business of human traffickers who will send their victims on ever more dangerous routes.
Release of my book about the Making Of Sea-Watch
Exactly one and a half years ago, while sitting around our kitchen table, we came up with the idea of Sea-Watch. At the time many thought we were dreamers, or worse, nutheads. The story that ensued, with all its highs and lows, is the topic of a book I wrote together with Veronica Frenzel, entitled: “Menschenleben retten! Mit der Sea-Watch auf dem Mittelmeer” (“Saving lives! A journey with the Sea-Watch on the Mediterranean Sea”) Pictures have been contributed by Ruben Neugebauer and Federica Mamelli and Cap Anamur’s Captain Schmidt has written a preface. In the book you can read (so far only in German) about my experiences during rescue missions off the Libyan coast, my appearance on German television talk show “Günther Jauch”, how Lesbos has influenced me, and what our plans for the future will be like.
A lot remains to be done! Our goal to get European politics to act against the dying on the Mediterranean Sea seems illusionary. The only way to stop people risking their lives at sea is to open our borders to them.
We demand a #safepassage, but so far this seems out of reach, which only motivates us to keep going. We are eager to save many more lives this year, hopefully thanks to your continued contribution and support.