We don’t need more rules, we need more rescue vessels!

BREAKING: Sea-Watch is bringing another ship into operation

The so-called ‘Code of Conduct‘, which was presented in Rome yesterday, will not save human lives but will in fact have the opposite effect. Not so the Sea-Watch 3: Sea-Watch is sending another rescue ship in response to the inaction of the EU. Many thousands of people are drowning every year at Europe’s deadly sea border. The European Union, on the other hand, is turning a blind eye to these deaths, leaving Italy alone with the consequences of this humanitarian crisis. The Code of Conduct, which is largely unlawful, is a desperate reaction from Italy. Instead of developing concrete solutions, those who take action where governmental structures fail are attacked: the civilian rescue fleet. However, what are needed in the face of more than 2,000 deaths this year alone are not more rules, but more rescue capacities!

As a result, Sea-Watch is renewing its own fleet: the civilian rescue fleet is to be strengthened with an additional much larger and more flexible ship in order to be able to react more effectively to the ongoing humanitarian crisis at Europe’s external borders. The Sea-Watch 3 was already used as a rescue vessel, Dignity I, by MSF (Spain) and is optimally equipped and tested for our mission. The ship is able to accommodate and provide for more people than we we were able to on Sea-Watch 2. It is a sign that we will keep going.

“The EU is wilfully letting people drown in the Mediterranean by refusing to create a legal means of safe passage and failing to even provide adequate resources for maritime rescue,” says Axel Grafmanns, Sea-Watch CEO. “The NGOs are currently bearing the brunt of the humanitarian crisis and they are being left alone.”

In the last few weeks, situations kept arising in which civil rescue ships were burdened far beyond their capacities, because the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre in Rome lacked the resources, or the political will, to send support.
Italy is also at the limit of its capacities, because other EU states are not taking on their responsibilities. For this reason, the relatively small Sea-Watch 2 – 33m long – had to take around 500 people on board from sinking ships. “We were faced with the decision: do we overload our ship and take them on board, or do we let them drown before our eyes? In the long-term, this state of affairs cannot continue,” says mission leader Reinier Boere.

“Since the European Union has increasingly refused to support maritime rescue, there is no alternative for us but to increase our own transport capacities with a ship which, if needs be, is not limited to Italian ports. The Sea-Watch 3 offers not only greater capacities but also better safety for the crew as well as refugees and migrants,” says Sea-Watch board member Sandra Hammamy.

CEO Grafmanns: “We are currently experiencing a significant aggravation of the humanitarian crisis in the Mediterranean. Resources for rescue are being refused and rescue personnel are being hindered. Therefore, it’s time to go on the offensive. We rely on our numerous supporters, and together we will be able to put up some solid resistance to the European policy of isolation: 648 tons of steel and a crew who won’t be kept down easily.“

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