Over 2000 Alarm Phone Cases - No Reason for Celebration

+++ 784 counted Deaths at Sea in 2018 +++ New Italian Government escalates Situation at Sea +++ Palermo Charter process toward Corridors of Solidarity +++ Remarkable Rise in Boat-Migration between Morocco and Spain +++ New ‘Mare Liberum’ Counter-Surveillance project in the Aegean +++ Developments in all three Mediterranean regions +++ Summaries of 58 Alarm Phone distress cases

 

Introduction

Since October 2014, when we launched the Alarm Phone project, we have worked on more than 2,000 emergency cases at sea – 2,054 to be precise. In the Aegean Sea, we dealt with 1,582 cases, in the Western Mediterranean with 279, and in the Central Mediterranean with 193. When we speak of distress cases, we speak of boats whose passengers find themselves in life-threatening situations. In some situations, we tried to support groups of five, in others groups of five hundred. Looking back, nobody in our project could have predicted such high number of distress situations, and nobody would have liked to see them go into the thousands. Over the past six weeks alone, we had 58 cases, most of which took place in the Western Mediterranean. That we are still called from all three regions of the Mediterranean and have to listen to people in acute distress is not a reason to celebrate. Some of them did not make it to Europe. They were pushed-back by European forces, intercepted by Europe’s allies, or they drowned in their attempt to find a better place for them to live. Even those who survived are marked by the often-harrowing experiences they made, at sea and before, during their often lengthy journeys of escape. When we launched the hotline, we made clear that we did not see it as a solution to migrant death at sea – the only real solution would be a radical change in the ways in which Europe governs its borders. Now, three-and-a-half years later, we still raise the same demands as the dying the Mediterranean continues.

Just last weekend, we were involved in two of the three fatal emergency situations that occurred in the three Mediterranean regions. Off the coast of Tunisia, more than 100 people have died on Saturday the 2nd of June 2018, and the figure could still rise, as some still are missing. This is the deadliest shipwreck so far in 2018. In the Aegean Sea, nine people died, including six children on the 3rd of June. The Alarm Phone had been alerted to the sinking boat (see case report below), during the early hours of Sunday morning. We received their GPS position and the information that some had gone already overboard. We spoke repeatedly to the Turkish coastguards, who started a rescue operation with aerial assets and rescue vessels. For many, however, they came too late. Also in the Western Mediterranean, we were direct witnesses of a maritime disaster (see case report below) when on Saturday the 2rd of June, a shipwreck occurred off the coast of Morocco, involving a boat carrying 9 people in total – 8 men and 1 woman. We tried to call them but could not reach them. We informed the rescue authorities but for a long time, it remained unclear whether they had been found or not. Our contact person in Morocco informed us later on that eight of the nine travellers had lost their lives. They have already been buried. In merely one weekend we have thus witnessed mass fatalities in each of the three regions of the Mediterranean which proves once again how deadly Europe’s borders are, and how desperately necessary it is to work toward the deconstruction of violent borders. We promise to continue with our work, and hope that at some point soon, our phone will not be needed anymore.

The situation for those engaging to create an open Mediterranean space and a welcoming Europe will become more difficult with the rising right-wing tide in Europe. In Italy in particular, with the proto-fascist Lega coming into power and with it Salvini as the new Interior Minister, the developments are alarming, and we will have to expect even more draconian and violent anti-migrant legislation and practices. On the 10th of June, we already witnessed how the new government intends to escalate the situation in the Mediterranean, when they denied the rescue vessel Aquarius of SOS Mediterranee the permission to disembark 629 rescued travellers in Italy. The Spanish government has welcomed the boat, but it would take long for the Aquarius to move to Spain and it is not a long-term solution.[1] The rescued need to be disembarked as quickly as possible and the rescuers have to return swiftly to the deadliest stretch of the Central Mediterranean – otherwise we will see even more fatalities.

While these developments are shocking, what is also clear is that in this condition of polarisation and friction there are no side lines anymore, and those who do not agree with anti-migrant atrocities will have to come out, speak up, and become practical. We want to be part of these contestations, and have taken a first step in Palermo in late May, when we co-organised a two-day long transnational meeting together with the mayor of Palermo, Leoluca Orlando. Mayor Orlando has long been a firm believer in the universal right to mobility, as also declared in the Charter of Palermo. He is now among a range of Italian mayors who have raised their voices against the new Italian government and have declared their harbours open for those rescued at sea. During our meeting in Palermo we heard from local activists and NGOs, humanitarian rescuers at sea, civil society and church groups, as well as representatives from the municipality. Our intention was to create a new transnational alliance based on practical forms of solidarity against the authoritarian and populist right-wing governments and movements that gain currency in Europe currently. Those who engage for safe passages through the sea, for safe transit throughout Europe and safe arrival, came together in this promising meeting to build transnational corridors and spaces of disobedience and solidarity throughout and beyond Europe.

Developments in the Western Mediterranean Sea

During the last six weeks, the Alarm Phone was alerted to 38 cases in the Western Mediterranean alone. We had intense shifts with several distress cases at the same time, and many sleepless nights. Many of the boats could be rescued by the Spanish rescue authority Salvamento Maritimo, that had busy weeks, too. Arrival numbers to Spain are remarkable since the beginning of this year, with 11.308 successful crossings documented by UNHCR until 6th of June alone[2]. It is a new development that the Western Mediterranean Route is nowadays nearly as often frequented as the other main routes across the Central Mediterranean (13.706 crossings) and the Aegean Sea (12.065 crossings). Nevertheless, the high numbers of border crossings in the Western Mediterranean are not a result of a decreasing level of border control. We witnessed a high number of boat interceptions by the Moroccan Navy during our shifts, but there is no official documentation of the number of interceptions. Also, the route remains lethal, as the currents in the Strait of Gibraltar are highly dangerous and most travellers disembark in small, lightweight rubber boats.

During the weeks that this report covers, the Alarm Phone was also involved in tragic cases in the Western Mediterranean in which travellers have lost their lives. On Tuesday the 29th of May, the Alarm Phone was involved in a case with five people leaving for Spain. When they were found by Salvamento Maritimo, one of the travellers on the boat had died, whilst another had gone missing. We still do no have any news about the missing person. The three survivors were rescued and brought to Spain. As mentioned before, on Saturday the 2nd of June, we were involved in the search of a boat that had gone missing with its 9 passengers. Unfortunately only one person survived. We have experienced several times that rescue operations were delayed, because responsibilities were being shifted around, with the Spanish Salvamento Maritimo unwilling to intervene in Moroccan waters, and the Moroccan Marine Royale not always living up to their responsibilities, often leaving travellers in distress without any assistance.

Situation at the land-border to the Spanish colonies Ceuta and Melilla

On the first day of Ramadan, we witnessed violent raids in the forests around Nador. The makeshift camps of travellers who live here, waiting for a chance to jump the fences of Melilla were completely destroyed. Ironically, only the place for prayers in the camp, erected by Muslim travellers, stayed untouched by the Moroccan forces.[3]

Praying spot of the raided Affra Camp around Nador. Credit: L’Association Marocaine des Droits Humains (AMDH)

The European borders of Melilla and Ceuta remain heavily secured by both Spanish and Moroccan Forces. On 17th of May, some hundred travellers were blocked by Moroccan forces to jump the fences of Ceuta.[4] On 6th of June, there was another collective attempt of 250 and 150 people trying to jump the fences of Ceuta, but it was thwarted nearly entirely.[5] On 18th of May, the Association for Human Rights Andalucía (APDHA) published a report on Europe’s southern external borders, notably on the Ceuta and Melilla borders. They call the respective border zone ‘un campo de experimentacíon’, an experimentation ground, for repressive politics of control.[6] The association denounces that millions of euros have been invested for often obscure projects in Morocco, the placement of new fences, the installation of new concertina barbed-wire (lately in the ports), the experimentation with drones and tanks and the building of new trenches on the Moroccan side of the border.[7]

Facing this constant repression from the European border regime and the Moroccan authorities, many people rely on self-organised solidarity structures. An example of such structures is the women’s rights and support association in Rabat, l’Association des Femmes Refugiées et Migrantes au Maroc (AFRMM). Here, women across nationalities empower one another by organising workshops on how to break the isolation they face in Morocco and deal with repression and discrimination. Together, they run a small shop where they sell home made items in order to support their activities. The association also offers legal and medical support to women, as well as supporting the bureaucratic procedures allowing migrants’ children to attend school. The association is currently working on opening a social center in Rabat, to have a collective space for their activities.

Developments in the Central Mediterranean Sea

With nearly 4,000 arrivals, May has been the month with the second-highest number of crossings this year (January: 4189 arrivals). So far in 2018, 13,706 people have crossed the Central Mediterranean. Especially toward the end of May, the numbers have increased dramatically, with about 2600 people arriving in Italy between the 25th and 29th of May alone. In early May, we received once again disturbing news from Libya. MSF reported of about 800 people being held in a detention centre in Zuwarah, many of whom had been detained for several months, without access to adequate food or water. A few weeks later, MSF reported about the attempt by more than one hundred migrants who had been held captive by traffickers west of Bani Walid, Libya, to escape: “They were shot at while attempting to flee. Survivors told MSF of at least 15 people were dead and said at least 40 people (majority are women) were left behind. Some of the survivors told MSF teams that they had been held captive for up to 3 years. Scarred bodies, visible marks of electrical burns, and old infected wounds give an idea as to the ordeal they have suffered.”[8]

The NGOs conducting search and rescue operations at sea have confirmed the poor state that people are in when being rescued onto their vessels. Some, however, do not reach the NGO boats as they are forcefully intercepted by the Libyan coastguards which are sponsored and supported by the EU. On the 5th of May, for example, Sea-Watch witnessed one of these pull-back operations by the Libyan authorities, who abducted people at high sea and returned them into captivity in Libya. On the same day, Sea-Watch spotted two half-sunken rubber dinghies north of Zuwarah – it is unclear what happened to their passengers. A day later, SOS-Mediterranee and MSF’s rescue vessel, the Aquarius, also witnessed a pull-back operation in international waters. At the sight of the Libyan coastguards approaching, people jumped into the water in order to be rescued by the NGO boat, but the Aquarius was not allowed to assist them. On the same day, the rescue vessel of Proactiva rescued 105 people on board of its Astral vessel, and did not allow the Libyan coastguards to return them into torturous conditions. As a response, Italy delayed the necessary transfer of the exhausted group of travellers to a larger vessel.[9]

These Italian tactics of delay in granting permission to assist, disembark or transfer have become more common. In late May, the Italian authorities deliberately pulled out the Aquarius rescue vessel from the most dangerous maritime area, ordering the vessel to return to Sicily to disembark a group of 69 people, although it sought to stay out in order to conduct more needed rescue operations. As SOS-Mediterranee stated: “With only 69 people on board, the Aquarius has the capacity to comfortably accommodate hundreds more. What is more, an Italian coastguard vessel with large capacity was nearby, and the Aquarius emphasised the possibility to transfer the 69 people to allow her to remain in the patrolling area. Yet, she was instructed to return to Sicily with the 69 persons and depart from the SAR zone immediately, having been informed there were enough assets in the zone, although in reality, all other humanitarian rescue ships were overwhelmed and had reached their maximum capacity.”[10]

Other SAR vessels, such as the See-Fuchs asset had to follow orders that endangered the people they had just rescued. Without the capacity to care for the 100 rescued, they wanted to transfer them to other vessels with the adequate means and space for them. They were, however, not allowed to do so and were ordered to bring them all the way to Italy, which endangered the livelihood of the rescued and the crew.[11] Also in the night to the 8th of June, Sea-Watch reported about an untenable situation, when they were carrying more than two hundred rescued people for over 60 hours on their vessel, while, at the same time, the See-Fuchs was also carrying many on board, unable to adequately care for them. Only with great delay did the Italian authorities send coastguard vessels to assist, and ordered the Sea-Watch crew to transfer the people to Sicily. With the new Italian government in charge, we fear that these tactics of delay and orders to vacate the deadliest SAR zone off Libya, will become even more common. We also fear that NGOs will more often face the situation where they are blackmailed into handing the rescued back to Libyan forces, as was the case in late March when the Aquarius could only negotiate the evacuation of particularly vulnerable people, and had to hand over the others to the Libyan authorities.[12] With the escalation on the 10th of June, with the Aquarius disallowed from embarking in Italy, the worst fears seem to become reality, but at the same time, the backlash from civil society actors against the stance of the Italian government offers some hope that Salvini’s deterrence plans will not remain unopposed.

With the securitisation of the Libyan route, other routes may become frequented more than before. Recently, several interceptions in Tunisian waters have been reported, and the shipwreck off the island of Kerkennah in Tunisia on the 2nd of June, the largest in terms of fatalities this year, may speak to that. With about 2,000 Tunisians reaching Italy via the sea this year, Tunisians are the most common nationality of border crossers through the Central Mediterranean, closely followed by Eritreans. In recent years, Europe’s restrictive visa system has made it virtually impossible for Tunisians who are not from the political or economic elite, to reach Europe by safe and legal means and paths. Unbearable inflation, lack of perspectives, regional insecurity and a multiplicity of other reasons are increasingly pushing Tunisia’s youth to take the dangerous route of the sea. In the shipwreck off Tunisia, which has led to the sacking of Tunisia’s Interior Minister, it has been reported that about 100 of the 180 passengers were Tunisians.[13] Given that many disappeared, the real number of fatalities, and their identities, may never come to light. For each of these lost individuals there is a devastated family, a community torn apart and uncountable grieving friends.

Developments in the Aegean Sea

We are happy to learn that a group of activists from different SAR NGO’s and solidarity groups recently founded a new association – Mare Liberum – to continue a monitoring mission in the Aegean Sea that Sea-Watch had started last year. The aim of the project is to increase public pressure to rescue travellers crossing from Turkey to Greece and to respect human rights at sea. Sea-Watch officially handed over their first search and rescue ship to Mare Liberum last week – the ship with which Sea-Watch had started their mission rescuing lives off Libya in 2015. We are glad that it will now continue serving the purpose of opposing the deadly European border regime! The ongoing tragedies in the Aegean Sea show that a critical observation on the ground is very much needed. Mare Liberum is going to start its first mission soon and we are looking forward to working together. We welcome the #NoBordersNavy! For more information on Mare Liberum check their homepage, facebook or twitter.

In the Aegean Sea, the number of arrivals has increased over April and May, with about 6,000 people arriving over these two months, the majority of whom have fled conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. Over the past six weeks, we have worked on 16 cases in this region. Overall, for May, and following the unofficial statics of Aegean Boat Report, 101 boats were intercepted by Turkey, carrying a total of 4907 people.[14] Overall this year, 14,816 people were intercepted on a total of 342 boats. According to this statistic, more people are prevented from crossing than succeeding in making it across.

About 15,500 people are currently stuck on the Greek islands, often confined in overcrowded and inhumane detention centres, where they spend many months. It is not surprising that tensions rise and violence occurs in these unbearable conditions. In the Moria camp on Lesvos Island, a lot of conflicts have occurred among the involuntary inhabitants. Some had to flee from the centre and are looking for adequate shelter elsewhere. But outside the camp the situation is often no less dangerous, as the recent fascist attacks on migrant groups have vividly shown.[15]

On the 8th of May, five rescuers, who had rescued many lives at sea, had to face charges of human trafficking and appeared before a court on Lesvos.[16] Accused were three firefighters from Spain, rescuers of the organisation Proem-Aid, also Salam Aldeen, and another person from Team Humanity. Fortunately, they were all found not guilty of the completely absurd charges of human trafficking. We congratulate them and hope it will send a signal that campaigns de-legitimising and criminalising rescue at sea will face collective solidarity.

Summaries of Alarm Phone distress cases

In the past 6 weeks, the WatchTheMed Alarm Phone was engaged in 58 distress cases, of which 38 took place in the Western Mediterranean, 16 in the Aegean Sea, and 4 in the Central Mediterranean. You can find links to the individual reports of the past 6 weeks below.

Western Mediterranean

On Thursday the 3rd of May 2018, at 6.52am, our Alarm Phone shift team received information about people in distress in the Western Mediterranean Sea via a contact person. We were able to speak to the people on the boat and we received a GPS position as well as the information that they were two people on a small rowing boat. We spoke to the Spanish search and rescue organisation Salvamento Maritimo at 7.40am and they informed us that the Moroccan Navy had intercepted a small boat close to the GPS that we had received. At 8.53am, the contact person sent us a voice message, confirming that they had been intercepted and returned to Morocco (see: http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/850).

On Thursday the 3rd of May 2018, around 7am, our Alarm Phone shift team was informed by a contact person in Morocco about a boat in distress in the Western Mediterranean Sea, near Cap Spartel. They had left a few hours earlier and were four people in total. We reached out to them but were unable to connect to them. We spoke to the Spanish search and rescue organisation Salvamento Maritimo at 8.08am. They confirmed that they had just rescued a boat carrying four people, in the area of the boat in question. At 8.13am, the travellers reached out to our contact person and confirmed their rescue to Spain (see: http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/851).

On Friday the 4th of May 2018, the Alarm Phone shift team was contacted at 1.04am from a person in Morocco, but the connection was bad and only few information could be gathered. At 1.40am, this contact person told us that the boat had started several hours earlier from Tangier/Morocco. There were 12 travellers on the boat. We tried to reach the people on the boat directly several times but were unable to connect to them. We spoke to the Spanish search and rescue organisation Salvamento Maritimo (SM) at 2.55am. They had received information about the case but no GPS position of the boat. We informed them that we would try to localise the boat. At 3.30am we received a GPS position directly from the boat and passed it immediately on to SM. We did the same when we received an updated GPS position at 4.06am. At 4.35am we once again passed updated coordinates to SM and they told us that they were only about 10 minutes away from the location. At 4.55am, the people on the boat confirmed that they had been rescued by Salvamento Maritimo and were being brought to Tarifa/Spain (see: http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/852).

On Saturday the 5th of May 2018, our Alarm Phone shift team was alerted to a boat in distress in the Western Med. The boat had left at 11pm the night before from Tangier and carried 8 people, including 1 woman. We spoke to the travellers at 6.27am but due to the wind in the background it was difficult to understand them. We asked them to forward their GPS position to us. When we did not hear back, we reached out to the Spanish search and rescue organisation Salvamento Maritimo (SM) at 6.42am. … At 8.33am, the travellers stated that they had seen a Search and Rescue aircraft – a piece of information we passed on to SM once again. At 8.45am our contact person confirmed that the travellers had boarded the Spanish rescue vessel and were all safe (for the full report, see: http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/85). 

On Tuesday, 8th of May, at 8am CET, a contact person alerted us to a boat in the Strait of Gibraltar, with 10 persons on board. They had left Tanger towards Spain at 2am. We called the boat and stayed in contact with the travellers until the contact person informed us at 9:03am that they had been rescued by the Spanish rescue organization Salvamento Marítimo (see: http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/860 ).

On Tuesday, 8th of May, at 9:32am, we were called from a boat in distress in the Strait of Gibraltar. The 11 travellers, among them one woman, had left from Tanger towards Spain at 5am. We stayed in contact with them until they informed us that they had been rescued by Salvamento Marítimo (see: http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/861 ).

On Wednesday, 9th of May, at 1.02am CET, we received a call from a contact person informing us about a boat that had left the Moroccan coast in the east of Tangier towards Spain. At 1:15am we managed to establish a connection to the boat. The group consisted of 8 people, among them one woman and one baby. They had left the Moroccan shore at 9pm the night before. They reported about water entering the boat. We informed the Spanish rescue organization Salvamento Marítimo at 1:20am. Afterwards, we tried to connect to the travellers again, but we couldn’t establish a connection. At 4am we called Salvamento Marítimo that informed us that the boat had been intercepted by the Moroccan navy. At 8:09am a contact person confirmed that the people had been picked up by the Moroccan Marine Royale (see: http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/862 ).

On Saturday, 12th of May, at 7:38am, we were informed about a rubber boat that had left from Cap Spartel at 6am, carrying 3 people. We tried to call the boat, but couldn’t establish a connection.At 8:11am the contact person informed us that the travellers had returned to Morocco as their boat had started deflating (see: http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/863 ).

On Tuesday the 15th of May, at 7.49am, our shift team was alerted by a contact person to a group of 5 travellers, forwarding us their phone number. The travellers had left at 4am local time. Half an hour later, the contact person informed us that the travellers could see a helicopter above them. We called the Spanish search and rescue organisation Salvamento Maritomo (SM) who confirmed that they were searching for the travellers with their helicopter. At 8.40am SM informed us that they had rescued the travellers, and this was shortly after confirmed by the contact person. (see: http://www.watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/866).

On Sunday 20 May, the Alarm Phone was contacted because a boat with 11 travellers including women left Cap Spartel at 3am local time in a Zodiac with paddles but no motor in the direction of Tarifa. Contact with boat was lost until 11.53, when Alarm Phone received confirmation that travellers returned to Morocco on their own due to problems at sea. (See: http://www.watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/871)

On Sunday 20 May around 1pm, the Alarm Phone received information from a contact person about 11 travellers in a boat which left from Tangier towards Tarifa, and information about another nearby boat that had another 11 travellers in it. At 1.20, Alarm Phone shift team received a voicemail saying that the boats were intercepted by the Marine Royale. After several unsuccessful calls to the travellers’ phone (probably due to the interception), the Alarm Phone reached the boat, and it was confirmed that both boats were intercepted and all passengers were alive and in Morocco. (See: http://www.watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/868)

On Monday 21th May at 0.25am local time, 7 men left from Cap Spartel in Zodiaks with no motors, only paddles, in a convoy in the direction of Tarifa. The Alarm Phone shift team was alerted to the case by on the ground contact. At 8.10am, the Alarm Phone called Salvamiento Maritimo. At 8.55am, the Alarm Phone received word that the boat had been rescued by the Marine Royale, and at 9.00am received confirmation from the travellers that they were brought back to Morocco (See: http://www.watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/869)

On Monday 21 May at 5am, Alarm Phone received news that 5 travellers left Morocco from Cap Spartel at 7pm Moroccan time, in Zodiaks without motors, only paddles. At 5.38, the Alarm Phone received news that Salvamento Maritimo was just arriving to rescue. Rescue to Spain was confirmed. (see: http://www.watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/870)

On Monday 21st May, at 7.40am, the Alarm Phone received a message that a boat with ten people, nine men and a woman, had left from Morocco. At 9.00am, we called the boat, and the travellers said that they were tired but OK and alone at sea, and asked the Alarm Phone to call Salvamento Maritimo. We stayed in close contact with the boat and was able to receive their updated positions regularly. At 9.50am, the Alarm Phone called Salvamento Maritimo in Tarifa/Cadiz with the information about the boat. The Alarm Phone tried repeatedly to reach the travellers, but unsuccessfully. At 12.12pm, the Alarm Phone received confirmation that SM had rescued a boat with 9 men and 1 woman, and confirmation again at 12.16 that the travellers were safe on SM’s boat. (see: http://www.watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/872)

On Friday the 25th of May, at 4.55am, the Alarm Phone shift team was alerted by a contact person to a group of 4 travellers, forwarding us their phone number. We immediately reached the travellers, who told us that they had left from Cap Spartel 20 minutes earlier. Through the contact person we received their position, showing that they were still very close to the coast. At 10.30am we called the Spanish search and rescue organisation, Salvamento Maritimo, passing on the information we had about the travellers. Only three minutes after, we received a message from the contact person informing us that the travellers had been intercepted by the Moroccan Marine Royale. (See: http://www.watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/880)

On Sunday the 27th of May, at 6.28am, the Alarm Phone shift team received a call from a group of travellers in distress. When we called them back, they told us that they were 10 people who had left from Tangier two and a half hour earlier. At 7.14am we spoke to the travellers, and they informed us that the SAR vessel had just passed, but not spotted them. We immediately called SM to pass on this information. At 7.32am we received the position of the travellers via a contact person, and we passed that on to SM as well. When we called SM again at 7.53am, they confirmed that they had rescued the 10 travellers. (See: http://www.watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/881)

On Sunday the 27th of May, at 7.22am, the Alarm Phone shift team was alerted by a contact person to a group of 12 travellers, including several young boys. We tried several times, unsuccessfully, to reach the travellers. At 7.53am we called the Spanish search and rescue organisation Salvamento Maritimo (SM) and passed on the information we had. At 8.18am we managed to reach the travellers. Shortly after, SM told us that the travellers had been rescued and were all safe. However, we remained in contact with the travellers via WhatsApp, and they informed us that they were still at sea awaiting rescue. We forwarded this information to SM who then told us that they were not able to commence the search and rescue without receiving the position of the travellers. At 9.00am we got the position of the travellers via a contact person, showing that they were still not far from the Moroccan beach. An hour later we got the information from a contact person that the travellers had been intercepted by the Marine Royale and brought back to Morocco. (See: http://www.watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/882)

On Tuesday, the 29th of May 2018, our shift team was alerted to a boat in distress at 00.40am by a contact person. We received the information that there were 5 people on a boat that had left from Cap Spartel. At 00.47am, we tried to reach the boat, but were not successful. We were able to inform SM at 2.22am about the situation and they said they would start a search and rescue operation. At 8.30am SM informed us that a rescue operation was ongoing, to which Moroccan forces had been called as well. At 9.10am, SM had still not located the boat. The Moroccan Navy informed us at 12.20pm that they had rescued two boats during the night, and on one of the boats had been 5 people. However, only four had been found alive, while one person had gone missing. Our contact person in Morocco, however, stated that the boat had been rescued to Spain, but not only had one person gone missing, another person had been found dead. In the afternoon, SM confirmed that 3 people and 1 dead person had been brought to Tarifa/Spain. The Guardia Civil Tarifa confirmed the information of SM (For full report, see: http://watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/885).

On Tuesday, the 29th of May 2018, at 2.45am, our Alarm Phone shift team was alerted to a distress case in the Western Mediterranean by a contact person. We were informed about a group of 7 people who had left Cap Spartel/Morocco in order to reach Tarifa/Spain. At 2.50am Salvamento Maritimo (SM) told us that they had been alerted to the same distress case and were looking for the boat. We tried to reach the boat directly, but could not get through to them. Our contact person in Morocco was able to speak to them at 3am, and we received a new GPS position, showing them still in Moroccan waters. SM informed us at 3.40am that they had located the people but that they were in Moroccan waters – they had notified the Moroccan Navy to the case. At 4.35am we spoke to the Moroccan Navy and they confirmed that they had informed assets in the area about the boat in distress. At 12.20pm, the Navy informed us that they had rescued 2 boats during the night, but we could not verify that the boat in question was among them. In the afternoon, at around 5pm, our contact person confirmed that the boat had returned independently to Morocco and the passengers were safe. (See: http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/886).

On Tuesday the 29th of May 2018, at 5.50am, we received a distress case via a contact person in Morocco. He informed us about a boat carrying 11 people that had left from Cap Spartel. We could not establish contact to them and informed the Spanish search and rescue organisation Salvamento Maritimo (SM) at 6.20am. They said that they would alert the Moroccan navy. At 9.10am, SM confirmed that they had rescued a boat with 10 people on board. Trying to verify whether this was the boat in question, we spoke to the Moroccan Navy at 12.20pm and they told us about two boats they had rescued during the night, one carrying 11 people, with one going missing, and one carrying 5 people, of which 1 had died and another person gone missing. At around 5pm in the afternoon, our contact person confirmed that they had been rescued to Spain and were all safe. They were 10 people in total, as one person decided in the night to not board the boat. (See: http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/887).

On Wednesday, the 30th of May 2018, our Alarm Phone shift team was alerted by a contact person at 6.33am to a boat in distress, carrying 5 people. They had left about 3 hours earlier from Cap Spartel. We received GPS coordinates and a phone number of the travellers. The boat was losing air and we informed the Spanish search and rescue organisation Salvamento Maritimo (SM) at 7.15am to the case. We received a new GPS position that we swiftly passed on to SM. At 7.33am, we were able to speak to the boat-people directly. They were anxious and we informed him that SM forces were looking for them. At 8.04am, the boat-people confirmed that they could see the rescue vessel. At 9.18am, our contact person confirmed that they had been rescued by SM. (See: http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/888).

On Wednesday, the 30th of May 2018, at 7.14am, our Alarm Phone shift team was alerted to a distress case in the Western Mediterranean Sea by a contact person in Morocco. There were 12 people on the boat and they had left several hours earlier. We were informed that the boat was close to the boat that we had been alerted to before. At about 8am we alerted the Spanish search and rescue organisation Salvamento Maritimo (SM) to the case and passed on all the information. At 8.26am, the rescue to Spain was confirmed by our contact person. (See: http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/889).

On Wednesday, the 30th of May 2018, our Alarm Phone shift team was alerted by a contact person at 8.28am to a boat in distress, carrying 5 people. They had left Morocco at 4am, local time, from Cap Spartel. We tried to reach them, but they were unable to find their coordinates, probably as their phone had become wet. At 8.43am we spoke to the Spanish search and rescue organisation Salvamento Maritimo (SM) and passed on all the information about the new case, the third case of the day. They knew about the boat and were searching for it. At 9.22am, our contact person confirmed that they had been rescued by SM to Spain. (See: http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/890)

On Thursday, the 31st of May 2018, at 7.19am, our Alarm Phone shift team was alerted to a distress case by a contact person in Morocco. There were 5 people on a boat, trying to row to Spain from Cap Spartel. We reached them at 7.38am and they told us that they were trying to send their GPS position to us. We received their GPS position and passed it on Salvamento Maritimo (SM) at 8.08am. The boat-people confirmed shortly after that they could see the vessel of SM. SM told us at 8.30am that they were rescuing other people close to the boat in question. At 8.41am, our initial contact person confirmed that the boat-people had been rescued. (See: http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/893)

On Friday, the 1st of June 2018, at 7.21am, our Alarm Phone shift team was alerted to a distress case by a contact person in Morocco. There were 11 people on a boat, trying to reach Spain from Cap Spartel. We were not able to reach them and spoke to the Spanish search and rescue organisation Salvamento Maritimo (SM) at 7.38am. They knew about the case but informed us that the boat was in Moroccan waters. At about 9am, our contact person told us that the boat-people had probably been picked up by the Moroccan navy. Only at 4pm could our contact person confirmed that they had been returned to Morocco by the navy. (See: http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/892)

On Saturday, the 2nd of June 2018, at 5.05am, our Alarm Phone shift team was alerted to a distress case by a contact person in Morocco. There were 11 people on a boat, trying to reach Spain. We were not able to reach them and spoke to the Spanish search and rescue organisation Salvamento Maritimo (SM) at 5.10am. We then spoke to the boat-people and they told us that they were very tired and the boat was full of water. SM confirmed that they would send a rescue vessel out. At 7.15am, we were informed that the boat-people were in severe distress. At 8.07am, SM informed us via email that a search and rescue operation was underway. At 11.35am, the rescue of the people by SM to Spain was confirmed. (See: http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/894)

On Saturday, the 2nd of June 2018, 17.10h, our Alarm Phone shift team was alerted to a distress case by a contact person in Morocco. There were 9 people (8 men, 1 woman) on a boat, trying to reach Spain. They had already left the evening before. We were not able to reach them and spoke to the Spanish search and rescue organisation Salvamento Maritimo (SM) at 18.04h – they could not confirm whether this boat had been among the many boats they had rescued over the last two days. The Moroccan MRCC Rabat said that they had not rescued a boat with 9 people on board. We were unable to receive further information until the next day, when our contact person stated that the boat had capsized. Seven people had died in the incident, one had gone missing, leaving only a sole survivor. (See: http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/895)

On Sunday, the 3rd of June 2018, at 7.18am, our Alarm Phone shift team was alerted to a distress case by a relative of someone who had taken to the sea. We reached the travellers directly at 7.25am and they told us that there were 4 people on board. At 7.45am, we spoke to the Spanish search and rescue organisation Salvamento Maritimo (SM) and they confirmed that they had received information about this boat. We informed the boat-people that SM had been informed at 7.55am. At 8.25am, the boat-people seemed more anxious and they asked us to inform the Moroccan authorities, which we did at 8.30am. At 8.35am, the boat-people told us that their situation was very urgent. … Over the next hours, we spoke regularly to the boat-people and updated the authorities on their situation which was deteriorating, with one person in critical condition. Still at 1.52pm, SM was not able to locate the boat although they had been searching. At 2.22pm MRCC Rabat sent us an email, confirming that they had rescued the people.    (For the full report, see: http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/896)

On Sunday, the 3rd of June 2018, at 11.46am, our Alarm Phone shift team was alerted to a distress case by a contact person, who alerted us to a group of 4 people who had left from Cap Spartel, Morocco. We were able to speak to them at 1pm, and they said that they were in urgent need of rescue. We informed the Spanish authorities Salvamento Maritimo (SM) about this case and also spoke to MRCC Rabat at 4.16pm. At 4.21pm, SM informed us that the Moroccan Navy had rescued a boat carrying 4 people in the area. We knew that there were two boats carrying four people, and at 4.32pm, our contact person confirmed that the boat in question had been rescued and returned to Morocco. On it was a woman, which was how it could be distinguished from the boat that had been rescued earlier. (See: http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/897)

On Monday, 4th of June, at 9:36am, we were informed about a boat on its way from Cap Spartel/ Morocco towards the Spanish coast. The rubber boat that carried 11 travellers was losing air and they were urgently asking for rescue. At 9:48am we called Salvamento Marítimo and informed them about the case. We also sent an email to the respective authorities to document the alert. At 10:00am we received the GPS position of the boat that we transferred to Salvamento Marítimo. As the boat was in Moroccan waters, we informed also the Moroccan Rescue Coordination Center in Rabat at 10:15am. Afterwards we stayed in contact with the travellers and monitored the movement of the rescue asset of Salvamento Martítimo on the livemap marinetraffic.com. At 12:07am we received a new position of the boat that we passed to Salvamento via call and Email. At 12:44am our contact person informed us about the safe rescue of all 11 travellers to Spain (see: http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/900 ).

On Monday, 4th of June, at 5:04am, we received information on a boat that had left from Cap Spartel/ Morocco towards Spain, carrying 12 people. We couldn’t establish a direct contact to the boat. We stayed in contact with the contact person and tried to reach the boat in the following hours. At 8:45am we called Salvamento Marítimo and informed them about the boat. We also sent an Email to the respective authorities to document the alert. At 10:20am the contact person informed us that the travellers had been intercepted by the Moroccan Marine Royale and brought to a police station (see: http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/901 ).

On Wednesday, 6th of June, at 11:58am CEST, we were alerted to a boat in distress from Cap Spartel/Morocco to Tarifa/Spain, carrying 4 people.They had left from Moroccan shore at 2am local time in a rowing boat. At 12:05am we reached the boat. It was losing air and water was entering the boat.They had already contacted the Spanish rescue authority Salvamento Marítimo themselves. At 12:39am we called Salvamento Marítimo and passed our information. They stated that the position would be in Moroccan waters and that the Moroccan Marine Royale had been informed. At 1:00pm we managed to receive a GPS position of the boat. At 1:10pm we passed the position to MRCC Rabat that informed us that a police patrol would already search the area. Afterwards, we couldn’t establish a connection to the boat anymore. We called several times the Moroccan authorities and tried continuously to reach the boat. At 7:15pm we received the information that the boat had returned to Moroccan shore on its own (see full report here: http://www.watchthemed.net/reports/view/903 ).

On Thursday, 7th of June, at 5:59am CEST, we were contacted directly by travellers on a boat in distress in the Strait of Gibraltar. They were 7 people on board. At 6:35am, we received the GPS position of the boat, that we passed to the Spanish rescue authority Salvamento Marítimo at 6:45am. We stayed in contact with the boat. At 10:21am we received a new position of the boat and the information that the boat was in heavy distress. At 10:30am we called the Moroccan Maritime Rescue Coordination Center and requested assistance to the boat. At 12:00am a contact person confirmed that the boat had been rescued by the Moroccan Marine (see: http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/902 ).

On Thursday, 7th of June, at 5:24am CEST, we were alerted to a boat in distress from Cap Spartel on its way to Spain, carrying 11 travellers. The rubber boat was losing air. We contacted the boat at 5:30am. Afterwards we tried to locate the boat and received a GPS position at 8:20am. We called Salvamento Marítimo at 8:30am and informed them about the boat in distress. They had a rescue asset close to the position of the boat, but refused to launch a search and rescue operation, as the position was in Moroccan waters. As the boat was losing a lot of air, we called the Maritime Rescue Coordination Center in Rabat and requested the immediate rescue of the boat. At 12:00am we called MRCC Rabat for news, but they didn’t provide any information. At 1:00pm we were informed that the Moroccan Marine Royale had picked up 5 boats in the area, but we couldn’t identify our boat among them. At 3:05pm a contact person confirmed the rescue of our boat by the Moroccan Marine. (see: http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/904 ).

On Thursday, 7th of June, at 6:50am CEST, we were informed about a boat in distress from Tangier/Morocco on its way to Tarifa/Spain, carrying 8 people. At 8:00am we managed to establish contact to the boat. We received the position and passed it to Salvamento Marítimo at 8:30am. Afterwards we stayed in contact with the travellers. At 10:05am Salvamento Marítimo informed us about a rescue of 8 people. At 10:24am the travellers themselves confirmed the rescue to Spain (see: http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/905 ).

On Friday, 8th of June, at 11:30pm CEST, we were alerted to a boat that had left from Cap Spartel at 10pm, carrying 11 people. At 11:50pm, we managed to reach the boat. At 00:02am we received their GPS position. We called the Spanish rescue authority Salvamento Marítimo and informed them about the boat. Afterwards we couldn’t establish a connection to the boat anymore. At 2:05am a contact person informed us that the boat had been picked up by the Moroccan Marine Royale. At 3:05am the travellers confirm that they had been taken back to Morocco (see: http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/906 ).

On Sunday, 10th of June, at 10:20am CEST, we were alerted to a motor boat that had left from nador towards the Spanish coast already the day before at 5pm, carrying 27 people, among them 2 women. The contact person had called the Spanish rescue authority Salvamento Marítimo several times to request assistance to the boat, but he lost contact to the boat at night and didn’t know whether the boat had been rescued or not. We tried to reach the boat several times, but couldn’t establish a connection. Afterwards we alerted local contacts and groups in Andalucia. At 12:30am we called Salvamento Marítimo in Madrid and passed our information on the boat. At 12:39am they called back and confirmed that the boat had been rescued to Spain (see: http://www.watchthemed.net/reports/view/907 ).

On Sunday, 10th of June, at 4:19am CEST, we received information about 14 women that had left by boat for Melilla but had stranded at the Spanish military island Chafarinas. We received their position at 5:06am. We were concerned about the danger of a push-back of the group to Morocco. At 5:54 we sent an email to different human rights groups operative in the area to alert them about the case. We stayed in contact with the group during the next hours. At 8:45am we called the Spanish Rescue authority Salvamento Marítimo (SM). We sent an email to document the case and express our concerns about an illegal push back of the women back to Morocco. We spread the news on social media channels to raise public awareness. At 11:28am the group informed us that two boats were approaching. At 12:30am we called SM Madrid again that confirmed that the group would be with military personal. At 1:30pm we called again and requested to provide them with food and water and emphasized that taking them back to Morocco would be illegal under the international law. At 3:50pm SM Madrid informed us that a boat would be sent to the island to transfer the women to Spain. At 9:45pm a local contact confirmed the safe arrival of the women and children in Melilla (see full report here: http://www.watchthemed.net/reports/view/910 ).

Aegean Sea

At 5.45am on Thursday, the 3rd of May 2018, the Alarm Phone received a distress case via a contact person, concerning a boat carrying 22 people from Bodrum/Turkey. Their engine had stopped working and when the contact person lost contact to the boat, he had alerted the Turkish coastguards, as the boat was still deep in Turkish waters. We were also unable to speak directly to the travellers. We spoke to the Turkish coastguards at 6.26am and again at 6.50am and informed them about the situation. At 7.42am, the Turkish coastguards said that they could not find a boat in the area. For a few hours, we were unable to receive information about the well-being of the travellers until, at 11.18am, our initial contact person confirmed that they were back in Turkey (see: http://watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/854).

On Sunday the 6th of May, at 3.06am, our Alarm Phone shift team was alerted to a boat in distress in the Aegean Sea, near Bodrum/Turkey, carrying 35 people. We received a GPS position as well as a phone number. The Turkish coastguards took on the case, and at 3.45am our contact person confirmed the rescue of the boat and its return to Turkey (see: http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/855).

On Sunday the 6th of May 2018, at 6.08am, our Alarm Phone shift team was alerted to a boat in distress in the Aegean Sea, near Lesvos, carrying 50 people. We received a GPS position as well as a phone number. We reached them shortly after and we heard loud noises as well as people who were anxiously shouting. A few minutes later we called the Greek coastguards and passed on the details of this case. At 7.40am, we reached out to the coastguards again, but it was not clear whether this boat had already been found or had landed independently on the island. At 8.15am, the coastguards confirmed the rescue of the boat (see: http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/856).

On Sunday the 6th of May 2018, at 6.10am, our Alarm Phone shift team was alerted to a vessel in distress in the Aegean Sea, carrying 55 people. We received a GPS position as well as a phone number of the travellers. We were able to directly reach them and they were clearly anxious and in need of support. At 6.15am we informed the Greek coastguards about the distress situation and they took on the case. At 6.50am we received the confirmation that the boat had landed independently on the shore of Lesvos Island (see: http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/857).

On Monday, 07th of May 2018, at 1:31pm, we were informed about 14 people that had tried to cross Evros River from Turkey to Greece. One person had died in the attempt. The group was back in Turkey and requested Alarm Phone to contact the authorities to find the dead body. The travellers sent a GPS position of where the body was located. At 1:55pm we called the local police in the nearest town Didymoteicho and passed the information. We also sent an e-mail to the police with the GPS position and a picture of the person’s ID card. At 3:44pm we called the police again, but we didn’t find out any news on the search. Later we were informed that the location of the body was only accessible by boat due to severe floodings in the area. During the next days we contacted the police in Didymoteicho several times but couldn’t finally confirm the recovery of the body (see full report: http://www.watchthemed.net/reports/view/859 ).

On Sunday, 13th of May, at 7:15am, we were alerted to a boat in distress in the north of Lesvos. At 7:20am we called the boat. The travellers were 20 people, among them 2 women and 4 children. They informed us that water was entering the boat. At 7:35 we called the Greek Coast Guard in Piraeus and informed them about the distress situation. At 7:40am we received a new GPS position from the boat that we passed to the Coast Guard immediately. We couldn’t establish a connection to the boat anymore. At 8:38am, we called the Coast Guard that informed us that the travellers had been rescued and brought to Lesvos. At 3:34pm we managed to reach the travellers that confirmed their safe arrival (see full report: http://www.watchthemed.net/reports/view/858 ).

On Monday the 14th of May, at 02.42am, the Alarm Phone shift team was alerted by a contact person to a group of 40 travellers, forwarding us their phone number and position. The position showed that the travellers were in Turkish waters. At 02.50am we passed on the information we had to the Turkish coast guard. At 05.40am the Turkish coast guard called our shift team to inform us that they had carried out a rescue operation in the area, and that the travellers would be taken to Izmir. The following day the contact person confirmed that the travellers were being held in prison in Turkey. (See: http://www.watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/864)

On Monday the 14th of May, at 06.21am, the Alarm Phone shift team was alerted by a contact person to a group of travellers in distress, forwarding us their phone number and position. We were not able to reach the travellers ourselves, but the contact person urged us to call the Turkish coast guard. At 06.26am we called the Turkish coast guard, who informed us that they had already sent a boat to the area and were looking for the travellers. Only at 10am did we manage to reach the travellers. They informed us that they had been imprisoned in Turkey but that they were all safe. (See: http://www.watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/865)

On Friday the 18th of May, at 06.19am, the Alarm Phone shift team was alerted by a contact person to a group of travellers in distress, forwarding us their phone number and position. The people were heading towards Samos, but still in Turkish waters, and through the contact person we learned that their engine had stopped working. At 07.14am we reached the travellers for the first time, and they verified that they were still adrift. At 07.49am the contact person informed us that the travellers could now see the Greek coast guard heading towards them. At 10.08am we were informed that the group of travellers, consisting of 21 men, 15 women and 12 children, had arrived to Samos. (See: http://www.watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/867)

On Monday May 21, at 2am, we received a call from a boat with 35 travellers, including over 10 children. Passengers described the situation as difficult. The contact with boat got lost until 2.25am, when the Alarm Phone shift team sent them numbers to call in case of distress. At 2.32am, the shift team received news that the boat has been rescued by the Turkish Coast Guard, and all persons are OK. (See: http://www.watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/873)

On Monday May 21, at 3.15am, Alarm Phone received the position of a boat with 40 adults and 10 children via a contact person, asking to call Turkish Coast Guard because the engine didn’t work. The Alarm Phone shift team tried to establish contact to the boat.. At 3.30am the contact person informed that they had run out of fuel and water was entering the boat. At 3.58am, the team contacted the boat to explain that the Coast Guard had been informed. At 4.22am, the team received information that the boat was rescued to Turkey. (See: http://www.watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/874)

On Tuesday May 22, at 10:37pm, the Alarm Phone received a call from a man searching for his friends, including 3 men, 2 women, and 4 children, who had reached Greece at the Evros River already in the morning time, before he lost contact with them. The Alarm Phone followed up with the man on May 23rd at 9:40am. The man still had not received news. The Alarm Phone sent an email to UNHCR on his behalf and communicated with UNHCR. Only on the next day, May 24th, the Alarm Phone was finally able to reach the Greek police and alert them to the missing people. At 1:56pm, the Alarm Phone received news from the father of one of the missing people that the family had been pushed back to Turkey by the Greek Police already. (See: http://www.watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/875)

On Wednesday May 23 at 3.44am, the Alarm Phone received a WhatsApp alerting that 27 people, including 7 children, were on their way to Kos when the engine stopped at 2.15am. The Alarm Phone tried to reach the boat by calling and sending WhatsApp messages. At 4.20am, the Alarm Phone was notified by the contact person that the travellers had arrived on their own on the Greek island and thus needed help. The Alarm Phone reached out to the travellers, but they said they didn’t need help and arrived safe on the island. (See: http://www.watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/876)

On Sunday, the 3rd of June 2018, our Alarm Phone shift team received a distress message from a contact person at 1.30am, alerting us to a case with apparently eight travellers, in dire need of help in the Aegean Sea. We received their GPS position and the information that some had gone already overboard. We informed the Turkish coastguards at 1.33am and they took on the case. At 2.05am, the Turkish coastguards informed us that two Search and Rescue assets had left and were searching for the boat. At 2.45am, the coastguards called us and stated that they had not found a boat. They also said that a helicopter was looking for the boat. For several hours, no new information about the group of travellers could be obtained. At 10.50am, the Turkish coastguards informed us that there had not been a case with 8 but 14-15 people, and 9 of them had died, including 6 children. Five were rescued alive, with one person in a critical condition. One person may still be missing. Later we discovered that the GPS coordinates of the capsized vessel corresponded with the coordinates that we had received during the night. (See: http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/884).

On Tuesday, 5th of June, at 2:55pm CEST, we were contacted about a group of 30 travellers that were stuck on an island on Evros river between Turkey and Greece. We couldn’t establish a phone connection to the group. At 4:10 we managed to reach them but the connection was too bad to find out more about their actual situation. At 4:25pm the contact person informed us that the whole group had been found by Turkish police and taken to a police station (see: http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/898).

On Friday, 8th of June, at 0:30am CEST, we were informed about a boat in distress on its way to Kos island. We called the boat, but due to connection problems and noises we couldn’t get further information on their actual situation. The contact person informed us that the engine of the boat had stopped, but it would work again. We hence received their GPS position and called the Greek Coast Guard at 0:55am to inform them about the boat. We also sent an email to the respective authorities to document the alert. At 1:30am the contact person informed us about the safe arrival of the boat (see: http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/899 ).

Central Mediterranean

On Monday, 7th of May, at 8:53am CEST, we received a call from a boat that had left from Tripoli at 3am, with many women and children on board. We couldn’t establish a stable connection to get more information. At 9:20am we called the Maritime Rescue Coordination Center (MRCC) in Rome and informed them about the case. At 9:39am we managed to establish a connection to the travellers again and tried to find out their GPS position. We contacted the light aircraft Moonbird of Sea-Watch and the Humanitarian Pilots Initiative (HPI) that hence started to search the boat in the area. At 10:20am we called MRCC Rome again. At 12:20am we called MRCC Rome again that stated there would be a second boat in the area and the rescue operation would be coordinated by the Libyan Coast Guard, which would also be in contact with the Aquarius from SOS Mediterannee. We couldn’t reach the travellers any more. At 3:25pm we called MRCC Rome again that told us that the boat we had been calling for had been picked up by the Libyan Coast Guard (see full report here: http://www.watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/883).

On Saturday, 12th of May, at 2:07pm CET, we were alerted by Father Mussie Zerai to a boat in distress from al-Khums / Libya, carrying 84 persons. We didn’t manage to establish a phone connection to the travellers. At 2:21pm Father Zerai forwarded us the GPS position of the boat. At 2:38pm we called the Maritime Rescue Coordination Center (MRCC) in Rome, that informed us that the boat had already been spotted by an aircraft. In the next two hours, we called MRCC Rome several times for updates, but didn’t receive any information. We still couldn’t establish a direct contact to the boat. At At 5:15pm MRCC Rome confirmed the rescue of the boat (see full report here: http://watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/877).

On Sunday, 13th of May, at 4:40am CET, we received a distress call from a wooden boat from Misrata, carrying 7 people. At 4:50am we called the Maritime Rescue Coordination Center (MRCC) Rome and passed their GPS position. At 5:21am we received a new position from the boat that we passed to MRCC Rome, that informed us that all vessels in the area had been informed about the boat, including the civil rescue ship Sea-Watch III and the Libyan Coast Guard. Afterwards we stayed in contact with the boat and continuously recharged the credit of their Thuraya phone. At 8:59 we contacted the Sea-Watch III that confirmed the rescue. The 7 travellers were later transferred to another ship and brought safely to Pozallo (see full report here: http://watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/878).

On Saturday, 9th of June, at 5:06pm, we were alerted to a rubber boat that had left Zuwarah at 5:30am local time, carrying approximately 60 persons, among them children and women. We tried to reach the satellite telephone of the boat but couldn’t establish a connection. At 5:23pm we received a GPS position of the boat. At 5:34pm we passed all information to the Maritime Rescue Coordination Center in Rome. Afterwards we reloaded the balance of the satellite telephone of the boat. We then tried to find out an updated GPS position, but still couldn’t establish a connection to the boat. At 6:52pm we called MRCC Rome again that supposed the boat would be among the ones the rescued in the area. We continued to try to reach the boat. At 6:15pm, we informed the light aircraft Colibri that was operating in the area about the case. We sent an email with all information to the respective authorities to document the alert. At 6:30pm we called MRCC Rome again. They stated our boat had been rescued by an Italian vessel to Italy (see: http://www.watchthemed.net/reports/view/908).

Footnotes:

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jun/10/italy-shuts-ports-to-rescue-boat-with-629-migrants-on-board

[2] https://data2.unhcr.org/en/situations/mediterranean

[3] http://www.lesiteinfo.com/maroc/nador-camps-de-migrants-subsahariens-evacues/

[4] https://elfarodeceuta.es/marruecos-repele-acercamiento-centenar-subsaharianos-valla-ceuta/

[5] https://www.news24.com/Africa/News/hundreds-try-to-cross-fence-to-spanish-territory-20180606

[6] https://www.apdha.org/media/informe-frontera-sur-2018-web.pdf

[7] https://elfarodeceuta.es/apdha-ceuta-melilla-campo-exterminacion-politicas-control-fronteras/

[8] http://www.msf.org/en/article/libya-dozens-refugees-and-migrants-wounded-after-trying-escape-horrific-captivity-conditions

[9] https://apnews.com/d2cf4d6b2195422e8faf0e10fd9e286f

[10]

https://sosmediterranee.com/more-than-1-500-people-rescued-in-two-days-sos-mediterranee-urges-the-european-authorities-to-acknowledge-that-every-single-rescue-asset-is-needed/

[11] https://sea-eye.org/deutsches-ngo-schiff-mit-ueber-100-menschen-an-bord-nach-seenotrettung-in-gefahr/

[12] http://www.msf.org/en/article/mediterranean-msf-evacuates-39-vulnerable-people-packed-rubber-boat

[13] https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/06/death-toll-tunisia-migrant-shipwreck-tops-100-180605055545681.html

[14] https://web.facebook.com/AegeanBoatReport/photos/a.285312485325196.1073741828.285298881993223/342609332928844/?type=3&theater – Please note that we cannot verify these statistics.

[15] http://www.ekathimerini.com/227956/article/ekathimerini/news/far-right-hooligans-attack-migrants-on-lesvos-turn-town-into-battleground

[16] https://alarmphone.org/en/2018/05/06/solidarity-with-rescuers-mytilene/?post_type_release_type=post

 

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