Every day, thousands of people try to make the journey to Europe. Not over land, which is much more manageable, as this is often not possible due to the closed borders of neighbouring countries and Europe. But across the rough and unpredictable sea. A journey of several days.
Boat Refugee Foundation is of the opinion that traffickers who organise this journey need to be dealt with. We also think the wars in the Middle East and Africa need to come to an end. Until then, we don’t think we should stand by idly. We don’t want to watch people drown on their journey to peace, happiness, a filled stomach, to safety.
We choose not to focus on what we cannot do, but look and see what we can do.
Boat Refugee Foundation has been requested specifically by the Italian government to assist in the waters between Italy and Lybia. We are known as a reliable partner in emergency aid and have a good reputation among our fellow NGO’s.
We can no longer delay the response to this emergency request to send more assistance. That is why Boat Refugee Foundation will take out to sea on a specially equipped rescue ship. Not to help people cross. To save lives. With this ship, we expect to save about 500 lives every week.
The location of this new mission will be the island of Malta. The Boat Refugee Foundation boat will dock in Valletta harbour. From there, we navigate the sea between Italy and Lybia and – in close co-operation between the Italian coastguard and navy – track and help ships in need.
On sea we will co-operate intensively, among others, with the German Sea-Watch, MsF (Medecins sans Frontières), MOAS, SOS Mediterranee and Pro-Activa, in order to help the boats in need. We act only on request of the central coastguard center in Rome; never on our own initiative.
A mission like this requires significant funding. We have a large ship with a medical unit. In order to go out to sea and do our work, we need € 2000 per day. This includes fuel, materials and people. The crew will consist of a skeleton crew with a contract; the rest will be volunteer staff, working in 14 days shifts.
Too many people lose their lives in the sea between Turkey and Greece. For this reason, a rescue mission was started in November 2015: the Search and Rescue Team (SAR).
The team of trained voluntary professionals comes into action with two fast rescue boats in case of drownings, and guards the boats safely to the shore. These volunteers have experience with saving people and have often received training in their daily life or in service with Defence Forces, Fire department or rescue teams in The Netherlands.
In November (2015), the rescue mission on Lesbos was officially started. In close consultation with the Spanish lifeguards, UNHCR and the Greek coast guard, we are patrolling in the waters around Lesbos. Boat Refugee Foundation uses fast Rigid Inatable Boats (RIB’s) which are equipped with identification- communication- and GPS-materials. We come into action when boats are in need or are sinking, or guard boats safely to shore. It is very important to calm the refugees on board and to show a safe place to come ashore. The field team is immediately notified and is present on the shore to guide the ‘landing’ and to take care of the refugees with the needed attention.
Our SAR-team has a good and close cooperation with the coast guard and other SAR organisations, and is both initiator and organiser of the central meeting of coordinators.
The SAR-team of Boat Refugee Foundation works close together with a.o.: Spanish Life guards, Sea-Watch, Doctors without Borders (MsF) and Greenpeace.