Macron and Merkel to meet in Marseille // SOS MEDITERRANEE renews its call on EU leaders for an urgent coordinated search and rescue response in the Mediterranean

Press release
Marseille, Berlin 06.09.2018

While the French president Emmanuel Macron and German chancellor Angela Merkel meet in Marseille (France) this Friday 7 September, the European organization SOS MEDITERRANEE operating the search and rescue vessel “Aquarius” in partnership with Doctors without Borders (MSF), renews its call on the EU leaders for a coordinated and long-term sustainable response to the humanitarian crisis unfolding in the Central Mediterranean.

The Aquarius, currently docked in Marseille, is actively preparing its imminent return to international waters off the Libyan coasts to continue its vital search and rescue mission on the world’s deadliest migration route.

As a European organization that has its roots in Germany and France, SOS MEDITERRANEE calls on all EU member States, and especially on the Franco-German pair who is meeting today in the port city of Marseille, to take their responsibility and put the rescue of human lives on top of their political agenda”, said Verena Papke, General Director of SOS MEDITERRANEE Germany.

Deaths in the Central Mediterranean skyrocketed in 2018 as SAR vessels have been blocked from operating, while European governments failed in their commitment to ensure a mechanism to ensure the safety of life at sea for the thousands of people in distress fleeing inhumane conditions in Libya. The recent heavy fighting in Tripoli demonstrates once again that Libya is not a safe place especially for migrants, refugees and asylum seekers”, continued Papke.

Recent rescue operations performed by the Aquarius under the coordination of the Libyan Joint Rescue Coordination Center (JRCC) on Friday 10 of August demonstrated once more that the EU-supported Libyan coastguard does not have the capacity to fully coordinate a rescue let alone to designate their shores as a place of safety.

The inadequate and incoherent EU response to the humanitarian crisis unfolding in the Mediterranean has led to more deaths on this route this year” said Sophie Beau, co-founder and vice-president of SOS MEDITERRANEE European network.

The EU must immediately put in place a common system for rescues at sea and prompt disembarkation system, based on the principle of solidarity among member states and in conformity with international maritime and human rights law. Rescued people must be brought to a place of safety where their basic needs are met and their rights are guaranteed, including the right to seek asylum. As the largest EU member states, France and Germany play a crucial role in finding an adequate response” says Beau.

SOS MEDITERRANEE also urges the French and German leaders to stand firmly against the obstruction and criminalization of solidarity and of humanitarian organizations. Saving lives in distress is a legal and moral imperative. As long as there will be people risking their lives at sea, the Aquarius will pursue its mission in the international waters at the doorstep of Europe to search, rescue, protect and testify.

We the European citizens place trust in France and Germany, pillars of the European project, to open the way to a coordinated European response to safeguard its fundamental principles and values of humanity and solidarity.

For immediate release. 

For further information please contact:
International: Mathilde Auvillain/ +39 347 328 2412 /
France: Laura Garel / +33 634 395 818 /
Germany: Jana Ciernioch / +49 30 2205 6811 /
Italy: Barbara Amodeo / +39 351 208 35 68 /
Switzerland: Julie Melichar /

UNESCO Peace Prize-winner SOS MEDITERRANEE is a European organization for the rescue of people in distress at sea. It was founded in 2015 and launched its rescue operations in February 2016. Since then, the organization has, together with its medical partner Doctors Without Borders (MSF), assisted 29.465 people. The non-profit organization based in France, Germany, Italy and Switzerland is exclusively funded by donations.