The Watch The Med Alarm Phone was initiated in October 2014 by a network of activist and civil society actors in Europe and Northern Africa. The project established a self-organized hotline for refugees in distress in the Mediterranean Sea.
Our main objective is to offer boat people in distress an additional option to make their SOS noticeable. The Alarm Phone documents the situation, informs the Coast Guards, and, when necessary, mobilises additional rescue support in real-time. This way, we can, at least to a certain extent, put pressure on the responsible rescue entities to avert push- backs and other forms of human rights violations against refugees and migrants at sea.
The critique of the deadly border regime is directed first and foremost towards the political actors of the EU. If Coast Guards do not act promptly, we try to enforce rescue operations through public pressure. Besides we attempt to alert cargo ships and commercial vessels in the vicinity to the boat in distress.
The Alarm Phone number is disseminated mainly through direct contacts with migrant and refugee communities in the important transit countries of Northern Africa as well as in Turkey. Moreover, we spread info-videos and leaflets about our project and the risks of crossing the Mediterranean Sea.
Until Mid 2018 we were involved in at least 2.400 distress cases: around 1.600 in the Aegean Sea between Greece and Turkey, around 230 in the Central Med off Libya and around 600 in the Western Med between Spain and Morocco.
Who are we?
The Alarm Phone is run by a collective of activists, most of whom have been active at the external borders of Europe for many years in networks, such as Welcome to Europe, Afrique Europe Interact, borderline-europe, Noborder Morocco and Watch The Med. By now we are around 150 activists who organize in several cities throughout Europe, Northern Africa and Turkey. Some members have made their own personal experiences of crossing sea-borders in the past.
In the short-term, the project focuses on making sure rescue operations are being carried out promptly and on preventing human rights violations. At the same time, we know that the deaths of refugees and migrants at sea could already be a matter of the past, if the border and visa regimes were dissolved. Without a radical change, it is evident that the thousands of tragedies in the Mediterranean Sea will be followed by many more deaths. Therefore, our long term goal is to create open borders and freedom of movement for everyone.