Everything is possible, everything can be transformed by strong social movements! Through our Alarm Phone project and during this incredible year of successful struggles for the freedom of movement, we learned this lesson once again.
OCTOBER 2014 Although we decided to operate the Alarm Phone throughout the entire Mediterranean Sea, during our preparation process we could hardly imagine how to make effectively use of our hotline in the Aegean area. Illegal PUSH-BACKS by Greek coastguards were daily practices at that time and while discussing this issue with refugees who had directly experienced such life-threatening situations, we thought it would be impossible to develop strategies for real-time interventions to prevent these practices.
OCTOBER 2015 Up to 100 distress calls and messages reached our shift teams in one week alone and nearly all of them came from the Aegean Sea. Every day and night rescue operations were carried out with realtime support of the Alarm Phone – an unexpected U-turn! This changing dynamic was the consequence of several intersecting factors: Syriza had come into power and halted most of the illegal push-back practices and also dismantled some pillars of the Greek-European detention regime.
More and more refugees and migrants were under pressure to leave and move towards Europe and they succeeded to open up a corridor to the north, heralding the long summer of migration. And between boat people, escorting groups of migrant communities and our Alarm Phone, an amazing communication process and network developed, able to support the (attempted) sea crossing of thousands.
This anniversary brochure provides information and an evaluation of these dynamics, not merely for the Aegean region but also concerning conditions and social struggles in the Central and Western Mediterranean Sea. The different contributions in this brochure reflect on many remarkable experiences made by Alarm Phone members in the project’s first year of existence. Most of its articles were composed by working groups or individual members of our transnational network and are thus reflective of the decentralised character of the Alarm Phone and its collaborative approach. We have grown into a network of more than 100 activists who belong to various groups, have multiple backgrounds, and live in cities all over Europe, northern Africa and elsewhere. We hope you will enjoy our brochure and we always welcome your feedback.