More than 150 organizations have pledged support to the "United4Rescue" initiative, launched by Germany's Protestant Church, which hopes to finance sea rescue efforts and send its own vessel into the Mediterranean Sea. The group is hoping to acquire a rescue ship in the near future.
Bavarian state bishop Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, chairman of the Protestant Church Council in Germany, told the Rheinische Post daily newspaper that the majority of the support came from church organizations as well as civilian groups that deal with refugees and migrants.
He highlighted that there were some more unusual supporters in the group as well, including the Italian port city of Palermo and German film director Wim Wenders.
According to the initiative's website
, the United4Rescue coalition "supports civil SAR operations from donations and subsidies from persons and organizations that want to support its activities." They plan to support a number of different rescue organizations and assist those suffering from an "acute shortage of finance for their expeditions."
The initiative was launched on December 3, 2019. With its fundraising campaign
#WirschickeneinSchiff, (translates into "We send a ship"), United4Rescue aims to acquire an additional ship "to be operated by Sea-Watch" and commission it by Spring 2020.
'Undignified negotiations over migrants have to end'
Bedford-Strohm however also stressed that the alliance of 150 organizations did not just plan to collect money for the purchase of a boat but rather hoped to gather funds to also actively help finance sea rescue as a whole. He also, however, spoke in favor of combating the root causes of migration in the first place:
"The most important thing is to fight against the causes of migration. The churches have been doing that for decades," he told Rheinische Post, adding however that Europe needed a redistribution mechanism for migrants and refugees arriving in Europe agreed upon at the highest political levels which would guarantee each new arrival safe disembarkation from rescue vessels.
"(We have) to bring an end to these undignified negotiations over rescued migrants stuck on boats,"