Who we are >
The idea for Channel Rescue originated in conversations between friends who have over 20 years of experience in migrant solidarity work, community activism and anti-racist campaigning. We have become increasingly worried about the hostile narrative being created by both the government and some in the media, that have sought to demonise those migrating across the English Channel.
Regardless of the legal rights or wrongs of the situation, there is a burgeoning humanitarian crisis emerging, with men, women, and children, risking life to arrive on these shores.
We will not sit back and allow the English Channel to become a mass graveyard, like the waters of the Mediterranean.
At present, there are no official ‘pushback measures’ in place, however we are concerned that increasing Navy patrols, RAF flyovers and volunteer patrols of extreme right-wing activists, act as a lethal deterrent that may force migrants into taking greater risks, or entering more dangerous situations. We are also concerned that unlawful push backs may already be being carried out.
Our Initial Plans >
As such we intend to launch a human rights monitoring project, to ensure migrants are offered the aid that is currently protected to them by international law, and to ensure no violations of human rights are committed. We also intend to offer humanitarian supplies to those we encounter at sea (be that food, water, or life jackets).
We have not started out with the intention to ‘ferry’ or transport migrants to shore. If during our patrols, we encounter migrants in distress (either sinking or in ill health), we will contact the appropriate authorities (such as the RNLI) while simultaneously honouring our legal and moral requirement to save life. We start in the first instance as ‘eyes on the sea.’
We will video document all our encounters at sea, to protect migrants, as much as ourselves. Given the Covid19 pandemic is ongoing, all of our volunteers will wear protective PPE and where possible act within the current government guidelines.
With your kind donations and offers of help, we are putting together a plan of action, establishing operational guidelines for volunteers, in line with the best practice that has been developed in the Mediterranean. We are speaking to established organisations to help us develop these. We intend to build this project with care and attention. Our first task is to establish shore patrols along the Kent coast. We start with very humble aims and with limited means. If you would like to contribute to our work, or you have skills that may aid us to scale up and run a permanently staffed service, then please do not hesitate to contact us.
We have currently raised more than 10,000 pounds from our crowd fund campaign. This money will allow us to purchase a RHIB (a rigid-hulled inflatable boat), supplies and safety equipment. However, it is a long way short of ensuring that we can operate a regular service. 10K has allowed us to launch, we now need money and resources to ensure we can grow.
Those who have stepped forward to volunteer so far include those holding medical qualifications, certificated seafaring skills, and those with extensive experience with delivering humanitarian aid and SAR (search and rescue) at sea. We welcome further participation from those who share our concerns, and particularly welcome offers from those who are qualified in either seafaring, first-aid or SAR or those with legal or linguistic expertise.
In solidarity and in hope,
Channel Rescue organising team.