#Opentheports for Sea-Watch 3.  The humanitarian bridge between sea and land

Christiane Groeben verso la SeaWatch3

Malta (NEV), 4th January 2019 – “We are facing, today, 4th January 2019, with gratitude, joy, embarrassment and sadness” so said the vice-President of the FCEI (Federation of Protestant Church in Italy) Christiane Groeben on the eve of her rendez-vous with Sea-Watch 3 in the framework of Alleanza United4Med which, with two vessels from Malta, will provide support for the ship which has for 14 days been waiting for a safe port to be assigned for 32 people, women, men and children, saved in the central Mediterranean on 22nd December last.

Groeben will go aboard the Sea-Watch 3 in the morning, together with a delegation of German MEPs, international journalists and civil society activists, in support of the NGO undertaking search and rescue at sea.  The FCEI recently sealed a partnership agreement with Sea-Watch giving practical effect to its humanitarian activities, as the German churches have done for some time.

“We are facing this day with thankfulness for the people and NGOs such as Sea-Watch which don’t allow themselves to become discouraged in their life-saving work.  With joy for the 32 people who have been given the hope of a future built on respect and freedom.  With embarrassment because the right to set foot on European terra firma is being denied.  With sadness because we don’t know what has happened to the idea of a united Europe which welcomes the stranger, whatever their ethnicity, religion or culture,” continues Groeben.  We Italian and German Protestant churches are proposing “European corridors”, in the same way that the Waldensian Board and the Sant’Egidio Community have already realised humanitarian corridors; we are asking those with power to consider the necessary political steps together.  Can we also do it this time?  Wir schaffen das?  It takes co-operation and we need to stop pretending that the problem doesn’t exist”.

Sea Watch e Mediterranea will join Sea-Watch 3 off the coast of Malta to provide support, provisions and a change of crew.

“The Berlin government has not yet given a positive response to the request of tens of German cities willing to host the rescued people,” reads the joint communiqué put out at dawn.