Saving lives, protecting rights

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The International Organisation for Migration reports that, in 2019, 753 people are known to have died or gone missing in the central Mediterranean, the world’s deadliest migration route. That’s two people every day. We’re supporting SOS MÉDITERRANÉE to save people in distress in the Mediterranean, protect and assist refugees on board and inform European civil society about the refugees’ situations in the region. Since launching operations, SOS MÉDITERRANÉE has welcomed 30,734 refugees aboard its rescue ships.

Duration
2018-2019
Focus area
Emergency Response
country
Mediterranean sea
partner
SOS MÉDITERRANÉE

Context

In the past six years, more than 15,000 people have died or gone missing in the waters between Libya and the southern shores of Europe, the world’s deadliest migration route.
The International Organisation for Migration reports that 753 people are known to have died or gone missing in the central Mediterranean in 2019. That’s two people every day.
And now, in 2020, escalating conflict and insecurity in Libya are leading new waves of thousands of people to flee, taking their chances on unseaworthy boats.

Emergency response

SOS MÉDITERRANÉE, with teams in Germany, France, Italy and Switzerland, is a maritime humanitarian organisation. It operated the rescue ship Aquarius from February 2016 to October 2018, and is now running the Ocean Viking, a Norwegian flagged rescue vessel. Since May 2016, the medical care on board has been provided by Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors without Borders.

Since launching operations, SOS MÉDITERRANÉE has welcomed 30,734 refugees aboard its rescue ships.

We are supporting SOS MÉDITERRANÉE to:

  • Save lives, rescuing people from distress at sea.
  • Protect and assist the refugees on board, providing medical and psychological care, and connecting them to supporting institutions in Europe.
  • Testify to the realities of migration in the Mediterranean, in order to raise awareness among the general public in Europe.

SOS MÉDITERRANÉE works in strict compliance with all applicable regulations, including maritime law, international humanitarian law and refugee law.

The Swiss branch focuses in particular on the legal framework that, pursuant to the Geneva Declaration on Human Rights at Sea, aims to clarify and upgrade international law regarding human rights in the maritime environment.