United4Rescue is a non-profit, independent association that supports civilian sea rescue in the Mediterranean and helps to save lives. With the help of donations, we have already deployed two rescue ships and made several rescue missions possible.
At the same time, United4Rescue is a broad alliance of hundreds of organisations united by the conviction that people should not be left to drown. The alliance publicly advocates for sea rescue and safe escape routes and represents four demands.
United4Rescue helps civilian sea rescue in an inter-organisational and unbureaucratic way, especially where there is an acute lack of money for rescue operations. For example, for the purchase and conversion of rescue ships, for equipment or deployment costs. We also create publicity for this important issue and make the broad social support for sea rescue in the Mediterranean visible.
Thousands of people are drowning in the Mediterranean, even though sea rescue is a state duty. The member states of the European Union, however, rely on isolation. We do not want to stand idly by and watch this policy and humanitarian catastrophe. Therefore, we support civilian sea rescue, which acts and saves lives as long as state sea rescue is lacking. Every life in distress at sea must be saved. Because the right to life is a human right.
United4Rescue works mainly with donations from organisations and individuals. In individual cases, we receive project-based funding, e.g. from municipalities and church sponsors.
United4Rescue is an independent association and does not belong to the church. However, the association was initiated and founded by people from the Protestant Church. Accordingly, there are many supporters from the church.
There are already good rescue organisations. United4Rescue has therefore decided to support sea rescue as a whole. Time and again, rescue organisations lack the money to go on missions. United4Rescue therefore enables sea rescue without operating rescue ships itself.
United4Rescue – Gemeinsam Retten e.V. was founded in November 2019 as a non-profit association. You can find more information about the association and its work here.
SEEBRÜCKE is a nationwide movement that politically campaigns for sea rescue and the communal reception of boat refugees. United4Rescue shares these goals, but mainly supports rescue ships and rescue missions with donations. With the large number of alliance partners, United4Rescue also makes the broad support for sea rescue visible.
United4Rescue is in exchange with numerous organisations, especially with all those who work for sea rescue, human rights and refugee protection in Europe.
Many alliance partners, groups and networks support United4Rescue with campaigns and appeals for donations. However, United4Rescue does not organise its own local groups. Here you can find alliance partners in your area.
By donating to United4Rescue, you help sea rescue where money is needed most urgently. For example, for the purchase and conversion of rescue vessels, for equipment or deployment costs. United4Rescue helps across organisations and unbureaucratically, but always checks the feasibility and professionalism of funding requests. So you can be sure: Your donation helps to save lives in distress at sea.
There are many ways to support United4Rescue! For example, organise your own small actions to draw attention to sea rescue and United4Rescue. You can find information here. Or contact us with your questions & ideas: !
Alliance partnership means that an organisation supports civilian sea rescue ideally and shares our four demands. In return, they appear on the United4Rescue webseite with their logo and statement. The alliance partnership is not connected with any financial obligations! However, we are happy about every donation raised by alliance partners.
In general, all organisations, groups, associations, initiatives or companies can become alliance partners. The prerequisite is that they support the four demands of United4Rescue and respect the free democratic basic order. Alliance partners can register online here.
None! It is about showing public solidarity with civilian sea rescue. By involving many organisations and groups, it becomes visible how great the support for sea rescue is in society. We are happy if the alliance makes civilian sea rescue and United4Rescue better known: through actions and events, appeals for donations, distributing flyers or social media material. If you have ideas, please contact us: !
No. The alliance partnership is not linked to any financial commitments or other obligations. Nevertheless, we are of course happy if we can send rescue ships into action with your financial support as well. You can find donation options here!
United4Rescue is a non-partisan and non-denominational association. In order to remain independent, federal and state associations of political parties are excluded from an alliance partnership. Local and district associations, as well as inner-party groups (e.g. working groups) can apply for an alliance partnership here.
United4Rescue is not an evangelical or church association. The association was founded after the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) was called upon to send a rescue ship to the Mediterranean at the Protestant Church Congress 2019 in Dortmund. That is why United4Rescue is very well known in churches.
However, the alliance has long since connected the most diverse denominations and religious communities, mosque and church congregations, Diakonie and Caritas, aej and BDKJ. And even beyond that, there is an enormous variety of organisations behind it — from farms to federal associations, from kindergartens to the city of Karlsruhe.
United4Rescue is founded in Germany and works mainly in German. However, we cooperate with rescue organisations in other countries, because sea rescue needs a common European solution. Our alliance partners are also international, e.g. from the USA, Switzerland, Austria, Spain, Poland, Italy. And our supporters also come from all over the world.
Welcome aboard! The more we become, the louder and more visible our alliance is. From now on, you will receive the "Schiffspost", our newsletter, regularly — about every six weeks. Follow United4Rescue also on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. This way you will stay up to date on all important events at United4Rescue and in sea rescue. You can find more ways to support sea rescue here.
In order to apply for the DZI donation seal, an organisation must be able to prove two years of operation. United4Rescue was founded in autumn 2019 and therefore does not yet meet this criterion. However, as a registered association (e.V.), we are already a non-profit organisation, do not generate profits and are transparent with regard to the use of funds. Our annual report gives you an impression.
In 2020, United4Rescue received a total of around 2.2 million euros in donations. Of this, almost 90 percent went directly to sea rescue. The 10.95 percent for staff, material and administrative expenses of United4Rescue are relatively low and are in the lower range according to the benchmark of the German Central Institute for Social Issues (DZI). Our expenses are also so low because we seek pro bono support and special conditions and many tasks are carried out on a voluntary basis.
United4Rescue supports projects after careful examination if they are solidly planned and realistically feasible. Many members of United4Rescue have been working on the topic of sea rescue for years and contribute their professional expertise to the evaluation of projects. When United4Rescue supports a project, we also accompany it during its implementation.
United4Rescue supports initiatives, institutions and organisations that are active in sea rescue or help people on the run. Applications for funding can be submitted at any time, there are no fixed application deadlines. A funding decision is made about eight weeks after the application is submitted. An application should comply with the funding criteria and clearly describe what funding is needed for and how the funding is made up. United4Rescue only provides funding for specific projects and as shortfall funding. It is important that adequate own or third-party funds are contributed to projects. If you are unsure whether your project is eligible for funding, please feel free to contact
We support civilian sea rescue in the Mediterranean — across organisations and especially where there is an acute lack of money. For example, for the purchase and conversion of rescue ships, the acquisition of equipment or the costs of rescue missions.
Yes, where possible, we are happy to be there! It is very important to us to inform about sea rescue and our work. Write to us at: .
We receive a lot of requests, so that we as a small, voluntary team cannot accept every invitation.
Companies, organisations, initiatives, communities, etc. can get involved in many different ways. Become an alliance partner of United4Rescue, stand up publicly for sea rescue or support us financially with a donation — for example as a meaningful gift idea for employees, customers or business partners, collect donations and collections, organise benefit concerts or make the issue of dying in the Mediterranean Sea a topic in another way! We would be happy to support you with our materials. Write to us at: !
With a donation to United4Rescue you help sea rescue where money is needed most urgently. For example, for the purchase and conversion of rescue vessels, for equipment or deployment costs. United4Rescue helps across organisations and unbureaucratically, but always checks the feasibility and professionalism of funding requests. So you can be sure: Your donation helps to save lives in distress at sea.
With your donation, you support civilian sea rescue in the Mediterranean — across organisations and especially where money is acutely lacking. For example, for the purchase and conversion of rescue ships, the acquisition of equipment or the costs of rescue missions. Before we forward donations to rescue organisations, we carefully examine the respective project. In this way, your donation always helps to save lives in distress at sea. You can find more information on our funding procedure here.
With a regular donation you secure the sea rescue in the long term and help us a lot to plan future projects. You make it possible for United4Rescue to help quickly and flexibly. At the same time, the administrative effort is less. As a supporting member you will receive additional information and invitations from us, for example to the general meeting.
You will receive your donation receipt in February of the following year as an annual donation receipt. We need your address for this! To save costs and the environment, we also send donation receipts by e-mail as a PDF document. If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact us: .
Amounts up to € 200 can also be claimed from the tax office with this "simplified proof of donation". Simply submit this with proof of transfer, for example your bank statement.
No. Donation receipts may only be issued for the person or organisation that transferred the donation. Only those who donate themselves can receive a donation receipt. Please draw attention to this if, for example, you are collecting donations in a circle of friends.
If you donate on Facebook or Betterplace, you will receive a donation confirmation by email from the respective provider. The donations will be forwarded to us, but we are not allowed to issue donation receipts for this.
Yes, you can also donate from abroad without any problems. However, donations to United4Rescue are only deductible in Germany.
United4Rescue promotes the charitable purposes of helping those persecuted for political, racial or religious reasons, refugees and displaced persons (§ 52 para. 2 p. 1 no. 10 AO) and rescue from danger to life (§ 52 para. 2 p. 1 no. 11 AO).
Please contact us by mail or phone if, for example, you have moved and would like to change your address: / +49 1511 4906495
Instead of flowers and wreaths, ask for a donation to United4Rescue during the funeral service to support sea rescue and save lives.
Transfer the condolence donation collectively to us or ask for a donation in the obituary. You can find an example here:
"Death should not have the last word. In the spirit of the deceased, we therefore ask for a donation to United4Rescue instead of flowers and wreaths. The association supports civilian rescue ships in the Mediterranean. Donate online at www.united4rescue.org or under the keyword _________ to the following account:
United4Rescue – Gemeinsam Retten e.V.
IBAN: DE93 1006 1006 1111 1111 93
Bank für Kirche und Diakonie eG — KD-Bank".
On request, we will be happy to provide you with the total amount donated and a list of the donors who have made a donation using your keyword.
People have very different reasons for making the perilous journey across the Mediterranean. Many are fleeing violence, terror and hardship. Others have lost their livelihoods in their home countries, are fleeing out of desperation and lack of prospects — and hope for a better future for themselves and their families. The stories told by those rescued are very different. But all of them report that the misery on land was greater than the fear of drowning.
According to the UN Organisation for Migration (IOM), more than 20,000 people have drowned in the Mediterranean since 2014. However, the number of unreported cases is likely to be significantly higher, as not every boat accident becomes known. The detailed IOM statistics can be found here: https://missingmigrants.iom.int
Every ship is obliged to rescue at sea, as are coastal states. However, in 2014, the large-scale Mare Nostrum search and rescue mission in the Mediterranean, organised by the European Union (EU) and Italy, was suspended. In 2019, the EU also ended all rescue activities under Operation EUNAVFORMed-Sophia. As a result, civilian sea rescue is currently the only way to save human lives from drowning.
Civilian sea rescue is under pressure because the member states of the European Union do not want to take in refugees. In order to prevent people seeking protection from reaching Europe, the focus is on isolation and deterrence. The political calculation is that people will no longer dare to cross if many boats sink, people drown and there is no sea rescue at all. However, this cynical calculation does not work: The desperation of those seeking protection is so great that many would rather drown than stay in the camps in Libya, for example.
The UN Refugee Agency provides information on the topic of sea rescue and the situation in the Mediterranean in general (https://www.uno-fluechtlingshilfe.de/hilfe-weltweit/fluechtlingsschutz/seenotrettung/) and on the situation in the Mediterranean in particular (https://www.uno-fluechtlingshilfe.de/hilfe-weltweit/mittelmeer/).
The International Organisation for Migration (IOM https://missingmigrants.iom.int/region/mediterranean) and the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR https://data2.unhcr.org/en/situations/mediterranean) provide up-to-date, reliable data on refugee movements and the number of victims.
People rescued from distress at sea must be taken to the nearest "place of safety" (POS). This is stipulated in Article 98 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. Bringing people back to the danger from which they are fleeing is therefore illegal. International law also prohibits returning people to states where they are at risk of torture or other serious human rights violations. Accordingly, Libya is not safe. In the detention camps there, people are tortured, raped, abused and enslaved. These terrible conditions have been documented by Doctors Without Borders, among others.
Returning people to North Africa would also deprive them of the opportunity to apply for asylum. However, the right to asylum is a fundamental European right. This means that Tunisia or Morocco are not safe places either, as neither state has an asylum system.
After their arrival on land, the rescued people are taken into state care. They are taken to shelters, given medical treatment if necessary, and the authorities establish their identity. A so-called "ad hoc relocation" mechanism was agreed between Germany, France, Italy and Malta in 2019, whereby the rescued people were distributed to various European countries after a security check, where they can then apply for protection in an asylum procedure. The website https://eu-relocation-watch.info/#malta-agreement provides detailed information on this topic [only in English]. However, this mechanism is currently suspended because the number of arrivals is too low and Italy is supposed to receive the people itself in terms of capacity.
People have very different reasons for venturing the perilous journey across the Mediterranean Sea. Many are fleeing persecution, massive human rights violations, war, violence, terror and hardship. Others have lost their livelihoods in their home countries, are fleeing out of desperation and lack of prospects — and hope for a better future for themselves and their families. The stories told by those rescued are very different. But all of them report that the misery on land was greater than the fear of drowning.
Sea rescue is humanitarian emergency aid. For every human life is equally worth saving. The international law of the sea clearly prescribes this: Every person in distress at sea must be rescued and brought to safety. The legal protection or residence status must then be decided by state authorities in a fair, individual asylum procedure. This is not the task of civilian sea rescue.
No. Boat people are fleeing war, persecution and hardship. There is no evidence to support the claim that it is civilian rescue at sea that causes people to flee across the Mediterranean. Various empirical studies — including those by Oxford University, the Migration Policy Centre, and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) — confirm this: There is no correlation between the presence of rescue ships and the number of refugee boats. The so-called pull effect therefore has no factual basis. This is confirmed by the evidence: Even if there is often not a single civilian rescue ship in operation for weeks, many people flee across the Mediterranean. What the studies prove, on the other hand, is that more people drown when there are no rescue ships on the scene.
Moreover, civilian sea rescue was only founded in 2015, after more and more people drowned and state sea rescue was lacking. Civilian rescue at sea is therefore the reaction to the refugee boats and the deaths in the Mediterranean — and not the other way round.
Civilian sea rescue was founded in response to the thousands of deaths in the Mediterranean. It is a myth that the rescue ships have a so-called pull effect. This has been proven by numerous studies, but also by sight: even when there is not a single rescue ship in operation for weeks, people still flee across the Mediterranean. Because there are no legal, safe escape routes, people have no choice but to place themselves in the hands of criminal smuggling gangs or dubious flight helpers. In this way, people's need becomes a business.
In Libya, local militias and criminal clans are particularly active. They provide the so-called coast guard, which is co-financed by the EU. And they also run the torture camps to which fleeing people are returned. In this way, a lucrative cycle has been established in which the militias earn twice: from the smuggling — as well as from the capture and return of the fugitives. People who have been able to escape this cycle often report that they have already attempted the crossing several times and that their families have been repeatedly blackmailed for ransom.
This conflict economy, in which people's need becomes a business, can only be broken by ending the civil war in Libya.
Tunisia — just like Morocco — is not a safe place for rescued people because there is no asylum system there. Rescued people must be brought to a place where human rights are guaranteed, starting with the right to asylum. The right to asylum is a fundamental European right. The Tunisian state does not provide this, even though the UNHCR and local aid organisations are providing good care for refugees in Tunisia and state authorities are making progress. There are also reports of state human rights violations against protection seekers in Tunisia and other North African states.
Preventing the causes of flight is important so that people do not have to flee in the first place, but can live in their homeland in dignity and safety. However, refugee protection requires both long-term commitment to global justice and peace as well as acute emergency aid and sea rescue.
Accordingly, United4Rescue as an alliance for civilian sea rescue unites very different actors and aid organisations, also from development aid.
The demand for safe and legal escape routes refers to the fact that no one is criminalised and persecuted for seeking protection in another country. Everyone has the right to leave their country to seek protection from persecution elsewhere, according to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. However, there is no right to be granted asylum. And almost always not even the possibility to get legally to where one could apply for asylum. That is why people, in their need and desperation, accept the most dangerous escape routes or have to entrust themselves to smugglers. If there were legal, safe routes, this would not be necessary.
United4Rescue – Gemeinsam Retten e.V.
IBAN: DE93 1006 1006 1111 1111 93
Bank für Kirche und Diakonie eG – KD-Bank
United4Rescue – Gemeinsam Retten e.V.
IBAN: DE93 1006 1006 1111 1111 93
Bank für Kirche und Diakonie eG – KD-Bank