Since the year 2000 more than 23.000 people died trying to reach Europe’s shores. After the end of the Mare Nostrum operation in the Mediterranean Sea three business partners from Germany decided to found the nonprofit NGO Sea-Watch e.V. We are acting politically, economically and religiously independently.
The initiators bought a 98 years old fish trawler to start an important mission: saving lives where states fail to act. A crew of volunteers refitted the MS Sea-Watch, working day and night to make the vessel suitable for Search and Rescue (SAR) operations.
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. With our new ship, the Sea-Watch 2, we were able to assist the rescue of 20.000 people in 2016.
In the same year, more than 5.000 refugees and migrants drowned in the Mediterranean or are still missing according to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM). These people are not victims of a natural disaster, they are dying because of a political decision to let them drown at sea. The European Union is turning a blind eye instead of helping those seeking protection. With concern we observe political cooperation between the EU and Libya, a country where human rights are abused on a daily basis.
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.