Alarm Phone

Hotline for boatpeople in distress. No rescue, but Alarm.

The Alarm Phone is not a rescue number, but an alarm number to support rescue operations.

We ourselves cannot rescue anyone; we are not in the area and do not have boats or helicopters. If you are in distress at sea or are experiencing a pushback, please follow these steps: - Call the coast guard and tell them about your situation of distress. - Call the Alarm Phone. We will make sure that your distress call is acted upon. - If you are not promptly rescued by the coast guard, call the Alarm Phone again. We will inform humanitarian organisations and public media to put pressure on the rescue services.

We want to support you in protecting your life and your right of freedom of movement. See our Safety at Sea section for more information.

For general information about the situation for refugees in the different European countries, click here. If you would like to contact us, go here.

How it started

Watch The Med Alarm Phone was initiated in October 2014 by activist networks 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 coastguards, 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 responsible coast guards have been informed about this project and we are pursuing a respectful and cooperative way of interacting with them. 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, it will be sought, on the one hand, to enforce rescue operations through public pressure. On the other hand, attempts will be made 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 are distributing leaflets that inform about the risks of crossing the Mediterranean Sea.

The project is actively involved in all three regions where migrants and refugees attempt to travel to the European countries: - The Aegean Sea (between Turkey and Greece) - The Central Mediterranean Sea (between Libya/Tunisia and Italy) - The Western Mediterranean Sea (between Morocco and Spain).

Who are we?

The Alarm Phone is made up of volunteers, 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.

Activists of the project are based in Tunis, Palermo, Melilla, Tangier, Cadiz, Marseille, Strasbourg, London, Vienna, Zurich, Berlin, Geneva and Izmir just to mention a few. They are involved in local groups, research projects and/or in campaigns in the three mentioned regions. Some members have made their own personal experiences of crossing sea-borders in the past.

The team members train themselves using handbooks that compile information based on experiences from people who have crossed the Mediterranean in the past years. We use online-maps and draw from the know-how of the monitoring project Watch The Med, which investigates cases of death and failure to assist in the Mediterranean Sea since 2011.

The project is supported by a wide network of civil society members on both sides of the Mediterranean Sea who have also signed our call. Amongst them are well-known intellectuals and journalists, survivors of shipwreck tragedies as well as relatives of those who disappeared, when travelling to Europe. The project is assisted, embraced and encouraged by migrants, who have experienced the deadly borders themselves as well as by outraged citizens who regard the present situation as unbearable.

Our goals

In the short-term, the project focuses on making sure rescue missions 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 recent 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.

The project reacts immediately to current developments like the ten-point-action-plan released on April 20th 2015 by the Joint Foreign and Home Affairs Council of the EU, the call of the EU for the reinforcement of Frontex’ Triton mission with campaigns, or the EU- Turkey Deal. See here for more information.

The history of the last 20 years in the Mediterranean shows that stepping up the militarization of migration routes only causes more deaths. Even when routes into Europe are blocked by new surveillance technologies and increasing policing, migrants continue to arrive. They are simply being forced to take longer and more dangerous routes.

International organizations as well politicians from across the whole political spectrum have denounced smugglers as the main cause of death in the Mediterranean Sea. Human smugglers however, only exist as long as border regimes exist that prevent refugees and migrants from entering countries legally and force them instead onto secret, expensive and dangerous routes. Smuggling networks would be history in no time, if those who are dying at sea could reach Europe legally. The visa regime that prevents them from doing so, was only introduced 25 years ago.

Insofar, the project aims to create a Mediterranean space of mutual solidarity, with open borders for all people.

An Initiative of

Extract taken from (“Alarm Phone - About” n.d.)

“Alarm Phone - About.” n.d. Alarm Phone . Accessed September 1, 2023. .