This is an alarm number to support rescue operations, not a rescue number. We ourselves cannot rescue anyone, we do not have boats or helicopters.
What to do if you are in distress at sea and pushbacks:
- First call the coast guards and tell them about your situation of distress.
- Then call the Alarm Phone. We will make sure that your distress call is noted and acted upon.
- If you are not promptly rescued by the coast guards, call the Alarm Phone again. We will inform the public media and politicians to put pressure on the rescue services.
We want to support you in protecting your lives and your right of freedom of movement. See also Safety at sea.
For general information about the situation in certain european countries for refugees – see: http://w2eu.info
How it started
The Watch The Med Alarm Phone was started in October 2014 by activist networks and civil society actors in Europe and Northern Africa. The project set up a self-organized hotline for refugees in distress in the Mediterranean Sea.
It offers the affected boat-people a second option to make their SOS noticeable. The alarm phone documents and mobilises in real-time. In this way, pressure to rescue is built-up, wherever possible and push- backs and other forms of human rights violations of refugees and migrants at sea can be opposed.
Thus, the Alarm Phone is not a rescue number, but an alarm number to support rescue operations.
In this respect, the responsible coast guards are informed of the launch of the project. The critique of the deadly border regime is directed first and foremost to the politically responsible actors of the EU. If coast guards do not act promptly, it will be sought, on the one hand, to enforce rescue operations through public pressure. On the other hand, attempts will be made to alert cargo ships and commercial vessels in vicinity to the vessel in distress.
The number of the Alarm Phone will be disseminated mainly through direct contacts with migrant and refugee communities in the important transit countries of Northern Africa and in Turkey. We are also distributing leaflets that inform about the risks of crossing the Mediterranean Sea. Besides notes on how to reduce the risks, the Alarm Phone number is provided.
The project is actively involved in all three regions through which migrants and refugees attempt to reach the countries of the EU:
- The Aegean Sea (between Greece and Turkey)
- The Central Mediterranean Sea (between Libya/Tunisia and Italy)
- The Western Mediterranean Sea (between Morocco and Spain).
Who we are:
The Alarm-Phone is carried out by volunteers, most of whom have been active at the external borders of Europe for many years in networks such as Welcome to Europe, Afrique Europe Interact, Borderline Europe, Noborder Morocco or Watch The Med.
Activists of the project are based in Tunis, Palermo, Melilla, Tanger, Cadiz, Marseille, Strasbourg, London, Vienna, Bern, Berlin and many other cities. They are involved in local groups, in research and/or in campaigns in the mentioned three regions. Some members have made their own personal experiences of crossing sea-borders in the past.
The team members train with handbooks that incorporate experiences of people who have been contact persons of boat-people already for years. They use online-maps and draw from the know-how of the monitoring project Watch The Med which investigates cases of death and failure to assist in the Mediterranean Sea since 2011.
The project is supported by a wide spectrum of civil society members on both sides of the Mediterranean Sea who have signed our call. Amongst them are well-known intellectuals and journalists, survivors of shipwreck tragedies as well as relatives of those who disappeared when travelling to Europe. The project is endorsed by self-organizations of migrants, who have experienced the deadly borders themselves, and by outraged citizens who regard the present situation as unbearable.
In the short-term, the project focuses on rescue missions and the prevention of human rights violations. In the same time we know: The death of refugees and migrants at sea could already be a matter of the past if the border- and visa-regimes were dissolved. It’s a fact that without a radical change the recent tragedies in the Mediterranean Sea will be followed by many more deaths to come in our future.
The project reacts immediately on current developments like the ten-point-action-plan released on April 20th 2015 by the Joint Foreign and Home Affairs Council of the EU. Or to the call of the EU for the reinforcement of Frontex’ Triton mission with campaigns.
The history of the last 20 years in the Mediterranean shows that stepping up the militarization of migration routes is only cause to more death. Each and every time a route into Europe has been blocked by new surveillance technologies and increasing policing, migrants have not stopped arriving. They have simply been forced to take longer and more dangerous routes.
International organizations as well politicians from across the whole political spectrum have denounced smugglers as the main cause of death in the Mediterranean Sea. People smugglers only exist due to, and as long as, border regimes exist that prevent refugees and migrants from the ability to enter countries legally and that forces them instead onto secret, expensive and dangerous routes. Smuggling networks would be history in no time if those who now die at sea could instead reach Europe legally. The visa regime that prevents them from doing so was introduced only 25 years ago.
Insofar, the project aims to create a Mediterranean space of mutual solidarity, with open borders for all people.
An Initiative of: Welcome to Europe, Afrique Europe Interact, borderline-europe, Noborders Marocco, Forschungsgesellschaft Flucht und Migration, Voix des Migrants