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, among others the Forschungsgesellschaft Flucht und Migration. 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.
Our 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.
Since the foundation of the project, we were involved in nearly 3.500 distress cases. In 2020 alone, the Alarm Phone was alerted to 434 distress cases. We have assisted 120 boats at risk off the coasts of West Africa, Morocco and Spain, 141 groups in the Aegean Sea or along the Turkish-Greek landborder, as well as 173 boats in the central Mediterranean Sea.
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.
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 FFM, Welcome to Europe or Afrique Europe Interact. By now we are more than 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.
The Forschungsgesellschaft Flucht und Migration e.V. uses knowledge and information gathered through the Alarm Phone project for research and publications. We publish our reports on https://ffm-online.org/