In April last year, we were able to support the civilian sea rescue organisation Sea-Eye in sending its new alliance ship, the SEA-EYE 4, on a life-saving mission to the Mediterranean. Thanks to our funding, the organisation was able to refit and equip its ship as a rescue vessel and strengthen its own structures sustainably and in the long term.
While Europe continues to let people drown in the Mediterranean and actively prevents civilian sea rescuers from saving lives, we respond with solidarity without borders. We need as many rescue ships in the Mediterranean as possible to counteract the deaths on the world’s deadliest escape route. Especially in times of crisis like the current Corona pandemic, it is more important than ever that we stand together and support each other. We are delighted to have been able to contribute to the successful launch of the SEA-EYE 4 in 2021. Sophie from Sea-Eye was on board the first mission of SEA-EYE 4 and shared her experience with us:
Sophie from Sea-Eye: In early 2021, I boarded the SEA-EYE 4 for the first time, which was still in the shipyard in Rostock at the time and was being converted by numerous hard-working volunteers. Little by little, this is how our rescue ship came into being. The first thing you notice is that the SEA-EYE 4 – the fourth ship of our association – is significantly larger than its predecessors. Proudly 53 metres long, it contains, among other things, a brand new on-board hospital as well as custom-built container structures as shelter for the most vulnerable groups of rescued people. Through the support of Sea-Watch, we were able to design the ship so that it is ideally equipped for our missions. The SEA-EYE 4 can thus safely bring several hundred people on board, care for them and finally bring them ashore during a rescue mission. In addition, we were able to sustainably build up our association and our internal structures through the support of Sea-Watch.
On the first mission of the SEA-EYE 4 in May 2021, on which I was present as a rescue boat communicator, 408 people were rescued from distress at sea in less than two days and in a total of six engagements. Since it was our first mission with the new ship, we were all excited about what the mission would be like. Today, looking back, I can say that it was an extremely successful mission! We learned a lot in the four weeks and mastered our tasks. We are happy that we were able to find more than 400 people in time and save them from drowning. I will never forget the moving moments I was able to experience when some of the people on board confided in me and shared their stories with me. Nor will I forget the beautiful moments of being human together on board. It was then all the more gratifying to hear that all of the pregnant women we had on board gave birth to healthy children shortly after they arrived in Europe.
But as happy as I am about every single person who was not lost at sea, I am also angry and outraged that all these people fleeing are still not being helped by the EU. Because the dying at our borders must finally stop! Therefore, we will not give up and will continue to travel to the Mediterranean with the civilian fleet to stand by migrants in distress at sea, who are cruelly abandoned to their fate by Europe. It is more important than ever that we can continue to go into action, that we stick together and stand united against injustice and stand up for a Europe of human rights.
I would like to take this opportunity to express my and our sincere thanks to all the donors and people of Sea-Watch who have made an essential contribution to making our successful rescue missions with the SEA-EYE 4 possible. Thanks to their contribution, we were able to save a total of 1417 people on their dangerous flight across the Mediterranean last year.
Solidarity must be lived in practice! So once again, a huge thank you for all your solidarity and support!