11th of October 2013: Refugees from a sinking boat called again and again Italian coastguards via satellite phone in order to be rescued, but their SOS signals were not taken seriously. The boat carried more than 400 people and was shot at in the night before by a Libyan vessel. Despite the Italian and soon later the Maltese authorities having been warned of the imminent distress of the passengers, rescue efforts were delayed for several hours and patrol vessels arrived one hour after the boat had sunk. More than 200 people died, only 212 people were saved.
What would have happened if the boatpeople could have directed a second call to an independent phone-hotline through which a team of civil society members could raise alarm and put immediate pressure on authorities to rescue?
One year after the tragedy from Lampedusa on the 3rd of October and after the left-to-die case mentioned above, the situation is no less dramatic. Although the Italian military operation “mare nostrum” led to the rescue of about 100.000 refugees and migrants within the last 11 months, only in the central Mediterranean area more than 1300 boatpeople became new victims of the border-regime. In the beginning of 2014 we witnessed more death at the external borders of EU: on the 20th of January 12 refugees died when their vessel sunk while being towed at high speed by a vessel of the Greek Coast Guard aiming to push it back towards the Turkish coast.