Sea-Eye rescue ship Alan Kurdi | Credit: EPA/Fabian Heinz/Sea-Eye
Sea-Eye rescue ship Alan Kurdi | Credit: EPA/Fabian Heinz/Sea-Eye

“Alan Kurdi,” the rescue boat of German NGO Sea-Eye, is starting a new mission to rescue migrants in the Mediterranean. A spokesperson of the charity said the mission will last up to four weeks.

German NGO Sea-Eye on Monday said one of its search-and-rescue vessels, the “Alan Kurdi,” will start a new mission off the coast of Libya in international waters. The boat will spend up four weeks at sea.

According to the charity, the boat is currently on its way to Libya with eight crew members and a dozen volunteers, among them one doctor and one paramedic. While the Alan Kurdi was equipped for acute emergencies, Sea-Eye spokesperson Nicole Grimske said, it couldn’t provide for many people over a longer period of time.

“We hope it will be possible to bring people to a safe place quickly,” Grimske said when asked about a possible situation of distress like those other migrant rescue ships faced in the last few weeks.

Concerning Italy’s refusal to let private rescue boats dock in its harbors, Grimske said Sea-Eye didn’t want any conflicts. If the crew fulfills its duty to rescue shipwrecked people under international maritime law, however, the crew “depends on somebody offering a safe harbor nearby,” she said.

Sea-Eye’s migrant rescue vessel is named after Alan Kurdi, the three-year-old Syrian boy who was washed ashore in Turkey after he drowned in September 2015. Photographs of his body quickly made global headlines, prompting international responses and becoming a global symbol of the plight of refugees at sea.

‘Unworthy drama in front of Europe’s gates’

Sea-Eye spokesperson Grimske, a doctor by profession, called a recent remark by Germany’s foreign minister Heiko Maas about an EU migrant redistribution “coalition” a “very positive development.”

Grimske said she took note that politicians were interested in a solution. “We will see what effect this will have in practice. The haggling will continue as long as there’s no consensus,” she said.

On Friday during a meeting with his Italian counterpart in Florence, Maas had slammed the stand-offs between EU countries and voluntary helpers meandering across the Mediterranean for days looking for a safe harbor and with rescued people on board. It's an “unworthy drama in front of Europe’s gates," he said.

People fleeing hunger and hardship couldn’t wait “until all EU member states have finally reached a consensus,” the politician said.

“Starting to haggle about human lives anew with every boat cannot be the solution,” Maas argued, adding that shifting the responsibility solely on to Italy and other European countries on Mediterranean coasts also wasn’t productive.

Last week, Maas had called on Germany to promote a "coalition of the willing" among EU countries that are prepared to accept refugees.

Some EU countries, above all Italy, have vehemently opposed any form of redistribution in recent years.

NGOs struggling for their presence in the Mediterranean

The new Sea-Eye mission of the Alan Kurdi comes after German pop group Revolverheld last week donated an unspecified amount to Sea-Eye. Apparently, the sum is enough to finance one week at sea for the Alan Kurdi. Sea-Eye is wholly financed by donations.

In early July, the Alan Kurdi stopped its mission to “refuel diesel and strength.” Shortly before the announcement, its crew handed over 44 migrants to Malta’s navy after it had rescued them in Maltese territorial waters.

Private sea rescue organizations like Sea-Eye continue to struggle for their presence in the Mediterranean: Ships, including the Sea-Watch 3, are stuck in Italian ports, the organizations face higher monetary fines than before, and stand-offs with authorities have been putting a strain on crews.

The only two active migrants rescue boats currently trying to save lives in the Mediterranean are the Alan Kurdi and the “Open Arms” of the Spanish NGO Proactiva Open Arms. At the end of this month, Norwegian-flagged Ocean Viking of humanitarian group SOS Mediterranee is expected to join the two boats in the central Mediterranean.

It is unclear when exactly the new ship of Mission Lifeline will be ready. The German aid organization announced earlier this month that it was preparing a new rescue mission in the Mediterranean.

With material from KNA


More articles