Today, our crew disembarked our guests in Messina into the hands of our colleagues of the Italian Red Cross. This time too, many of them had been fleeing from their homelands for months and had to spend much of that time in the civil war country of Libya.
Some told us the stories of their journeys on our way to Italy, reflecting what has long been reported by NGOs and journalists from Libya: fleeing people from the global South are being arrested arbitrarily by gangs and subsequently forced to pay ransom or do slave labor. The situation in the overcrowded prisons is inhumane, dominated by torture and oppression, and people are fed only sporadically. The women are raped there and suffer from severe trauma. As soon as people have the chance to flee this situation, they will try, well knowing that they might drown in the Mediterranean Sea during the crossing. But the will to somehow escape the horror in Libya is greater than the fear of death at sea. When these people come aboard after all their suffering, we will travel with them for at least another day or two, until we disembark them in a safe place. During this time they realize that their strenuous journeys will soon be over, and on the ship with us, they finally have a feeling of security for the first time in a long time. As soon as we enter the ports with them, they realize that their journey is over. In these moments, people lose their tension and we enjoy moments of happiness, for both them and our team.
For the time, this is a last time of goodbye, and we wish our guests that in the future, despite immigration-critical politics and the shift to the right of many societies in Europe, they can lead a life in dignity here. After our current mission, the Sea-Watch 3 will sail to the shipyard in Spain for maintenance, but before that, we will head back to our home port in Valletta to leave the ship after three weeks. In the meantime, we hope that our colleagues will be able to provide help for the people on the Mediterranean and send solitary greetings to everyone. Goodbye until April!
Photo / Video: Marcus Wiechmann