The volunteer crew on board the Alan Kurdi rescue ship | Photo: Sea-Eye
The volunteer crew on board the Alan Kurdi rescue ship | Photo: Sea-Eye

In midst of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the German humanitarian organizaton Sea-Eye announced the launch of a new migrant rescue mission in the Mediterranean Sea. The Alan Kurdi vessel left the Spanish port of Burriana on Monday.

After an eight-week break, the Alan Kurdi is off to a new migrant rescue mission in the central Mediterranean. The ship left Spain on Monday and is expected to arrive in the Libyan search-and-rescue zone by this weekend, Sea-Eye announced.

The Alan Kurdi is currently the only migrant rescue ship in the Mediterranean.

Bärbel Beuse, captain of the Alan Kurdi, said in a press statement: "Despite all the difficulties, my crew showed up, trained and is ready for action. How could we stay in port now when not a single rescue vessel is currently present? As human beings, it is our duty to do everything reasonable to save other people’s lives."

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the crew has adapted new safety precautions and have established an "outbreak management plan," the organization said.

"German high sea vessels have the highest security requirements anyway. In addition, we have sufficient personal protective equipment for our crew on board", says Jan Ribbeck, mission manager.

Europe in lockdown

Sea-Eye says it expects difficulties to find a safe port in case of a successful rescue operation. 

Due to the coronavirus outbreak, most countries in Europe have imposed heavy travel restrictions and have closed their borders. Many administrative services have been reduced.  

In the past, private rescue organizations have spent week-long time periods stranded at sea in search of a port to disembark. European governments remain divided over how migrants rescued at sea should be distributed among EU member states. Italy under its former interior minister Matteo Salvini had implemented a closed port policy under which private migrant rescue ships were banned from entering Italian waters. 

With the the current coronavirus pandemic and the respective entry restrictions, private rescue organizations may face even greater challenges to receive permission to dock.

Since the start of the coronavirus outbreak in Europe, no civil sea rescue organization had been able to send a rescue ship to the central Mediterranean until now. Travel restrictions have severely affected the arrival and departure of crew members, Sea-Eye said. 


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