The sea rescue vessel Sea-Watch 4 has left the port of Burriana (Spain) on Saturday 15.08.2020 and is on its way to the search and rescue zone. The Sea-Watch 4 is currently the only rescue ship operating in the Mediterranean and is a joint project of United4Rescue, Sea-Watch, and Doctors without Borders.
The purchase of the ship was made possible in January 2020 by the United4Rescue alliance. After the necessary conversion work, which was considerably delayed by the corona pandemic, the Sea-Watch 4 has now been able to leave the shipyard in Burriana, Spain, and is on its way to its operation area in international waters off Libya. Sea-Watch is in charge of the operation and is medically supported by Doctors without Borders. The Sea-Watch 4 is the first time that a civil sea rescue mission is supported by a broad civil society alliance: More than 550 alliance partners are currently supporting United4Rescue.
“The situation off the Libyan coast is still dramatic,” says Michael Schwickart of United4Rescue. “Therefore, we are glad that our ship is finally on its way to the area of operations to rescue people in distress.”
For more than six weeks, no civilian rescue teams have been deployed in the search and rescue zone. Almost all active sea rescue vessels are stranded in Italy due to alleged safety deficiencies or are prevented from rescuing due to unfulfillable conditions. In these six weeks alone, Sea-Watch’s civilian reconnaissance aircraft have documented more than 1,500 people in distress in the central Mediterranean Sea. According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), more than 3,500 people dared to make the dangerous crossing. In many of these cases, the people were brought back to Libya by the so-called Libyan Coast Guard in violation of international law.
“For weeks, civilian ships have been prevented from rescuing under absurd accusations, while people are fighting for their lives in the Mediterranean Sea,” says Chris Grodotzki, Sea-Watch spokesperson on board Sea-Watch 4. “The departure of the Sea-Watch 4 is also a clear message to the European Union: We will not stop rescuing as long as you let people drown as a deterrent!”
United4Rescue supports as an independent, non-profit association the civil sea rescue on the Mediterranean Sea. In January 2020, United4Rescue made the purchase of the Sea-Watch 4 as an additional rescue vessel possible. United4Rescue also supports other civil sea rescue organizations, so that never a rescue ship cannot leave port due to lack of funds.
The alliance unites more than 550 large and small organizations, initiatives, companies, associations, and foundations from the most diverse social areas. Alliance partners include the German Trade Union Federation (DGB), World Vision Germany, the Muslim Coordination Council, and the Protestant Church in Germany.