Sea-Watch e.V. – Secure maritime escape routes
Since the year 2000 more than 23.000 people died trying to reach Europe’s shores. After the end of Mare Nostrum operation in the Mediterranean Sea three business partners from Germany decided to found the non-profit NGO Sea-Watch e.V. We are acting politically, economically and religiously independent.
The ship MS Sea-Watch was bought and refitted with a crew of volunteers, working day and night to make the vessel suitable for Search and Rescue (SAR) operations. Due to the scarce financial resources Sea-Watch had to improvise in terms of technical solutions. The success of the project was based mostly on hard work and the collaborative effort of a highly professional and motivated team. This was and remains Sea-Watch’s biggest asset. The mission between Libya and Italy had to be paused in October 2015 due to changing weather conditions which make the sea too tough for the 98 years old trawler.
Today, at the end of the launch season of the project, Sea-Watch can look back on a summer where it has been able to save the lives of more than 2.000 people found in distress at sea throughout seven missions.
In the winter months Sea-Watch starts its mission between Lesbos, Greece, and the Turkish mainland, again facing a situation totally thrown out of joint. More information here.
The SAR missions consist of searching actively for refugee boats with binoculars day and night in the operational area. As a reaction to accidentally spotted boats or located boats in distress by the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) in Rome the MS Sea-Watch launches a speed boat which can approach the refugee boat to provide life vests and drinking water for the refugees. Medical emergencies can be treated in inflatable life rafts by the medical team on board. The Sea-Watch crew then stays with the refugee boat until a bigger ship (from the authorities mentioned above) arrives to take the people to Europe. The MS Sea-Watch is too small to board refugees itself but is able to stay in the operational area and proceed with its mission instead. Another aspect is the witness of the situation in the SAR region. Due to the wide media attention in 2015 Sea-Watch was able to put pressure on authorities to pursue their work of active rescuing.
Besides the work on Lesvos Sea-Watch is planning to continue its work off the Libyan coast as soon as the weather conditions improve again in spring 2016. In order to collaborate effectively with the SAR authorities active in the Mediterranean Sea, mentioning the Italian Coast Guard, the European navy and private initiatives as the ones of MSF and MOAS, it is vital to have a faster and better equipped ship which can handle longer periods in the operational zone. Sea-Watch wants to buy a new ship to improve its SAR capacity to a level suitable for the operational requirements. Sea-Watch is also improving its scouting equipment for finding and rescuing people in need of assistance and is working on a collaborative network for all partaking groups in SAR.
Donations are greatly appreciated.