MSF Evening on SAR (October 29, 2019)


we lost the sound for about 10 minutes in the middle, fear not, the sound came back for the main part of the debate! 

Karin Ekholm's presentation

MSF relaunched our Search and Rescue (SAR) efforts in the Mediterranean Sea on the 4th of August this year after witnessing the complete failure by politicians to protect vulnerable people attempting to seek refuge in the EU. More than 8,400 people tried to cross the see from Libya in the first six months of 2019 alone, and it’s estimated that 426 people died at sea attempting to cross.

MSF first launched our Search and Rescue activities in the Mediterranean Sea in 2015, since then, European governments have dismantled search and rescue operations, criminalized humanitarian efforts to save lives at sea and adopted migration policies aimed at containing vulnerable people in Libya at all costs. However, this has not stopped people from fleeing across the central Mediterranean, it has only made the journey more dangerous.

Our SAR activities have been criticized, and we have faced challenges to find harbours to disembark the refugees.  We have been called people smugglers, but as a humanitarian organization, we believe that our presence is needed to save lives, as well to witness and speak out about the human costs of the policies and politics at play.  We do not want our SAR activities to be regarded as anything but emergency humanitarian action.

During the MSF Evening we will discussed:

  • How is MSF working and who do we collaborating with in our SAR activities?
  • How do we work with advocacy and acceptance of our mission?
  • How do we work in order to improve acceptance for refugees arriving on the Mediterranean Sea?

The panel included:

Astrid Börjesson, midwife, have done missions working on two of MSF’s rescue ships 2015-16

Karin Ekholm, communication officer, recently returned from Tunisia where she was working with refugees trapped in Libya and SAR

Farshad Shamgholi, logistician with a training in Maritime Law who worked with the MSF SAR team in Lesvos in 2016. Since 2017 Farshad have been involved in SAR activities with a couple of NGOs including the Refugee Rescue, Lighthouse and Mare Liberum project in the Aegean Sea and with Jugend Rettet and Sea-Watch in the Central Mediterranean Sea.

By: Rebecca Cederholm