Search and rescue – Press conference with staff and crew from NGO boats operating in the Mediterranean
Following the latest stand-off between EU governments and NGO boats, on Tuesday, 22 November, Left MEP Miguel Urban Crespo is hosting a press conference with representatives from SOS Mediterranée, MSF, Mission Lifeline, Sea-Watch and Open Arms. The press conference will take place at 17:00 CET, in the European Parliament in Strasbourg – Daphne Caruana Galizia room LOW N-1/201.
During the European Parliament’s November session in Strasbourg, there will also be a key debate on the issue: Council and Commission statements – The need for a European solution on asylum and migration including search and rescue.
Over the past weeks, hundreds of people in need of a safe place have been stranded at sea. For several months now, the delay in designating a place of safety has become worryingly long. Long waiting periods at sea have a detrimental impact on the mental and physical well-being of those previously rescued from distress and are, from a humanitarian and legal perspective, unacceptable. In the current situation, responsible coastal states (namely Italy and Malta) are violating both maritime and international laws.
Since 2014, more than 25,000 people have lost their lives in the Mediterranean Sea and at least 1,922 deaths have been documented since the start of this year, according to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).
But behind the dark statistics, there are people, with names, families, hopes and aspirations of coming to Europe. We want to give a platform to those working every day to rescue people at sea and prevent more deaths, to speak about the real extent of the situation.
- Louise Guillaumat, Deputy Director of Operations SOS Mediterranée
- Sophie Scheytt, Head of advocacy for Sea-Watch on German and EU-level
- Juan Matias Gil, responsible for SAR operations in the Central Mediterranean for Médecins sans Frontières (MSF)
- Hermine Poschmann, board member Mission Lifeline, responsible for the SAR coordination of the vessel Rise Above in the Central Mediterranean
- Valentina Brinis, policy officer Open Arms
Miguel Urban Crespo (Anticapitalistas, Spain) said: “The situation in the Mediterranean is shameful and appalling. We have more and more European states refusing to uphold their international obligations on search and rescue, disembarkation and reception. But make no mistake, this is not new, it didn’t start with the extreme right government in Italy. On the contrary it’s become a de facto migration policy. For years, member states failed to uphold their international obligations or to agree on proper responsibility sharing, while racism and false news about migrants was whipped up without challenge. The problem didn’t go away, it’s time now to address it head on so that people don’t get caught up in these political games.”
Journalists can attend the press conference and ask questions in person or online at https://ep.interactio.eu/66e2-hy1p-1w4u
Louise Guillaumat was born in 1986 in Paris, France. Louise worked for many years with international humanitarian NGOs in different emergency fields, such as the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, Lebanon’s response to Syrian refugee arrival and the Rohingyas refugees crisis in Bangladesh. She decided to join SOS Mediterranée in 2018 at its Direction of Operations. The NGO operates the Ocean Viking ship, one of the boats that sparked the recent disputes between Italy and France.
Sophie Scheytt is working with Sea-Watch since 2017, both in the back office as well as on the ships and the aircrafts. Next to lobby and advocacy work, she accompanies the ships and aircraft operations on land on a political, operational and legal level. She is also regularly part of the ships’ crews, where she is working as a “guest coordinator,” being the focal point for the rescued people on board and coordinating the crew’s interaction with the rescued people, such as distribution of information, clothes, food, conflict resolution.
Juan Matias Gil has 14 years of experience in the humanitarian sector working as project manager and country director for Médecins sans Frontières (MSF), mainly in acute emergency phases of armed conflicts (Iraq, Syria, Yemen, South Sudan, DRC, CAR, etc). He has extensive knowledge of migration contexts (South America, Balkans) and strong expertise in search and rescue activities, where he has worked since 2015. MSF is operating the Geo Barents ship, one of the boats that led to the recent tensions between Italy and France.
Hermine Poschmann has worked for Mission Lifeline since 2017. She was until 2019 Head of the Crewing department. In 2020, she took over the project coordination for different projects from Mission Lifeline. Since 2021 she has been a board member and responsible for the search and rescue coordination of the cruise Rise Above in the Central Mediterranean.
Valentina Brinis has been working in the migration field since 2015. During this period, some of her roles were as an integration expert for UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, a counsellor for the Inquiry Commission on Accommodation Center for the Italian Chamber of Deputies and a counsellor for the Senate Human Rights Commission.
Photo credits: Juan Martin Camille/SOS Mediterranée
Related Meps and Contact person
Miguel Urbán Crespo