Joint press release by SOS Humanity, Sea-Watch and United4Rescue.
The non-governmental sea rescue organisation SOS Humanity christened its new rescue ship Humanity 1 this morning in Vinaròs, Spain. It is the previous Sea-Watch 4, which the organisation Sea-Watch had handed over to SOS Humanity after more than two years of successful rescue missions. The acquisition of the former research vessel Poseidon from the city of Kiel in northern Germany was initiated and financed by the civil society alliance United4Rescue at the beginning of 2020. The Humanity 1 is scheduled to start its search and rescue mission in the central Mediterranean Sea at the end of August.
“As a person with a history of flight, I am very moved by the fate of the people seeking their way to Europe via the Mediterranean,” said Humanity 1’s godmother, journalist and presenter Hadnet Tesfai, this morning on the quai of the port of Vinaròs, before throwing the champagne bottle at the ship’s hull. “I know their dreams and understand what they leave behind for them and what they go through on the way. That’s why I’m so happy to be able to support SOS Humanity at the christening of Humanity 1 – hoping that this ship will save as many people as possible.”
Laura Gorriahn, chairwoman of the Board of SOS Humanity, emphasises with regard to the christening: “Our purpose is saving lives. Europe’s current practice of not saving people in need immediately and thus risking refugees to drown in the Mediterranean Sea is out of the question. We act humanely and rescue them from distress at sea. Every single life counts.”
However, because the rescue coordination centers of the Mediterranean countries often do not coordinate search and rescue missions and do not pass on the information to NGO-ships, SOS Humanity is launching a petition today. It calls on the German government and specifically on the German federal minister of the interior, Nancy Faeser, to implement the improvements in search and rescue in the Mediterranean announced in the coalition agreement of the German government.
In Berlin, Nora Bomke, Board member of Sea-Watch, also reminds Europe of its duty to perform search and rescue at sea on the occasion of the ship’s launching: “Every nautical mile that the ship has to cover in the future should be a reminder to Europe. Member states must finally fulfill their responsibility and establish a search and rescue programme in the Mediterranean. Instead of mere talk, action must follow. Just plain words do not save lives.” The non-governmental search and rescue organisation Sea-Watch had passed on its former rescue ship as part of the civilian rescue fleet in the central Mediterranean to SOS Humanity in an act of solidarity. SOS Humanity, formerly SOS Mediterranee Germany, operating independently since January, had been looking for a rescue ship to its own.
The alliance ship of United4Rescue, now called Humanity 1, has just been overhauled, maintained and repainted in the colors of SOS Humanity in a Spanish shipyard. “Today’s christening is another milestone in the history of our first alliance ship,” said Liza Pflaum, United4Rescue’s executive vice president. “Thousands of people and 800 organisations are standing behind this ship with one clear message: you don’t let people drown. Full stop. We as civil society act where politics fails.”
The Humanity 1’s new international crew, about half of whom are volunteers and more than a third are women, is already on board for a quarantine period. At the end of August, the Humanity 1 will set sails for the central Mediterranean, one of the world’s deadliest escape routes. More than 900 people on the move have already drowned there this year.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us:
Petra Krischok | Spokesperson SOS Humanity | email@example.com | M +49 (0)176 552 506 54
Oliver Kulikowski | Spokesman Sea-Watch | firstname.lastname@example.org | M +49 (0)1575 8090674
Susanne Jacoby | Press Contact United4Rescue | email@example.com | M +49 (0)151 501 26 724