Most emergency calls reach us in the early hours of the day, between 3 and 8am. They come from boats in the Central Mediterranean, the Aegean, and more recently especially from the Strait of Gibraltar. In recent months, we were alerted almost every day by one or several boats in distress in the Mediterranean. Our shift teams do everything they can to ensure that the people at sea are rescued as quickly as possible, by calling and providing crucial information to the coastguards and, if rescue measures are not initiated immediately, by public pressure.
The Alarm Phone has been on alert around the clock for over four years now and we have been in contact with over 2500 boats during this time. Often our assistance was successful and people were brought to Europe by European coastguards or civilian sea rescue assets. In other cases, however, the people were picked up or intercepted by the Moroccan military, Libyan militias or Turkish coastguards. They were saved from drowning, but were returned into conditions they had tried to escape from. Unfortunately, we had to also repeatedly witness how groups of travellers lost their lives – due to bad weather conditions, hopelessly overloaded boats, or rescue operations that were launched too late or not at all.
The drama of death at sea is not a natural disaster and could end tomorrow. Turning the Mediterranean into a mass grave is purely a political decision by European governments who want to maintain their external border as a deadly deterrent at all cost. Nobody would get into a small boat, pay a lot of money and risk their lives, if they were allowed to cross the sea by ferry or plane. The exclusionary visa regime forces people onto deadly routes and must be abolished. Safe and legal flight- and migration routes to Europe are the only solution in order to finally end suffering and death at sea. Nobody should risk their lives on small boats to reach Europe. This is the vision that our transnational Alarm Phone network strives towards, while assisting those who still have to do so. In 2018, the situation at Europe’s external borders, especially in the Central Mediterranean, has become even worse, due to the criminalisation of sea rescue operations and the closure of ports. The death rate here is higher than ever before.
Through our public outreach and campaigns and the regular reports we write, the Alarm Phone denounces structures of power that have turned the Mediterranean into a mass grave. We do not only have to cover the phone costs of our self-organised call centre and the countless calls of our respective shift teams. We print multilingual materials concerning issues of safety at sea and produce video clips. We organise and finance meetings to network along the three main escape routes and exchange experiences and information. We meet and accompany survivors and relatives when they mourn their beloved ones who were lost at sea.
Against a Europe of deterrence and racist hatred we work toward an open Europe and a society based on solidarity without exclusion and deportation. In order to be able to pursue these goals in the future and to continue operating our hotline, we ask for donations that are tax-deductible.
Bank account Germany:
Account Holder: FFM (Flight and Migration Research Association), Sparkasse der Stadt Berlin
IBAN: DE68 1005 0000 0610 0242 64;
Reference: Alarm Phone
Bank account Switzerland:
Account holder: Watch The Med Alarmphone Schweiz
IBAN: CH21 0900 0000 6117 2503 0
When donating from a Swiss account you will automatically receive a receipt. If you have any problems, please contact us at: