We saved 26,000 people... Europe must do more

Two pilots who bought a plane to be able to save migrants in the Mediterranean say they were inspired by the work of the rescue charity group SOS-Mediterranée. We speak to one of its founders, Klaus Vogel, on what else needs to be done to stop the deaths

Inspired by a sense of solidarity among seafarers, German merchant navy captain Klaus Vogel put his career on hold to help migrants at risk of drowning in the Mediterranean.

Klaus Vogel
Merchant navy captain Klaus Vogel

With humanitarian and social aid worker Sophie Beau, from Marseille, he founded SOS Méditerranée which has saved more than 26,000 people.

Awarded the Grand Vermeil medal – the city of Paris’s highest honour – he has written a book, Tous sont vivants (éditions les Arènes), on their rescue work on the ship, Aquarius.

You were awarded the City of Paris medal and your book is with a French publisher – do you have other links with France?

SOS Méditerranée was set up as a European organisation in 2015 then as national associations in different countries, including France, so it was a natural choice to go with a French publisher. We have organisers in France, including my co-founder, and a large number of citizens who support us. Also some of our team on the ship are French as well as other nationalities including German, Italian, Spanish and British. The City of Paris medal was for all of us.

Why did you decide you had to do something?

The most important reason was that the Italian government rescue operation, Mare Nostrum, abruptly ended in October/November 2014 and there was literally nobody any more to help. Italy had rescued 150,000 in one year.

I met people, including co-founder Sophie Beau, and we decided to set up a European organisation and to raise money to hire a big, strong vessel.

We wanted to ...

To read the remaining 85% of this article, you need to either

Subscribe now to The Connexion and benefit from access to our archived articles since 2006

Print + Digital 3 month subscription

Pay every three months. Our most flexible subscription.

Automatic renewal, cancel anytime

Print + Digital 1 year subscription

1 year of great reading in print and online

Automatic renewal, cancel anytime

Digital 1 year subscription (Our best value offer)

1 year of great reading online *no paper*

Automatic renewal, cancel anytime

Digital 3 month subscription

3 months of great reading online *no paper*

Automatic renewal, cancel anytime

More articles from French news
More articles from Connexion France
Other articles that may interest you