Landecker Democracy Fellow Iason Apostolopoulos is the field coordinator of the Italian humanitarian organization Mediterranea Saving Humans, where he leads the Search and Rescue operations in the central Mediterranean Sea onboard the Mare Jonio rescue vessel. He has in-depth knowledge and understanding of migration in Europe and its socio-political context.
Refugees, asylum seekers, and other migrants are among the world’s most vulnerable populations. The depiction of refugees as a threat to Western countries has continued to be widely propagated particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. This has led to an increasing amount of hardline policies and measures against these populations, such as the recent decision of Malta and Italy to once again seal their ports and deny shelter to migrants in distress at sea.
Policies such as this one are not new. Since 2017, European states have stopped coordinating rescue efforts in the central Mediterranean Sea. They are ignoring distress calls from migrant boats. They are actively restricting the presence of search and rescue ships with the intention to hinder rescue operations. Their objective to restrict migration has a high cost of human lives.
The depiction of refugees as a threat to Western countries has continued to be widely propagated particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic.
There has been a rise in civil search and rescue missions that are financed by private donors. These fleets are the only hope that is left for the many migrants aboard broken down ships in the idle of the Mediterranean. To support the plight of migrants, Iason proposes a project to increase the capacity of Search and Rescue efforts in the central Mediterranean Sea and to raise awareness about the increasing rate of human rights violations in this context.
The idea is to promote the concept of civil response at sea to a wider audience and to strengthen the already existing network of people who actively protect migrants’ lives. The mobilization of local communities is a crucial factor in this process.
The project encompasses activities such as workshops and training sessions for future rescuers of different levels of expertise (beginner, moderate, and advanced). After gaining knowledge and tools through theoretical classes on land and practical sessions at sea, they will be able to join a non-governmental rescue ship. The project also relies on events with public speakers to raise awareness about the deaths at sea and the horrifying conditions migrants escape from in Libya and beyond. Iason plans on creating videos and media campaigns using testimonies from migrants and material from non-governmental rescue missions.
The project takes place in Italy. It brings together an international group of people with prior experience in non-governmental rescue operations. The idea is to promote the concept of civil response at sea to a wider audience and to strengthen the already existing network of people who actively protect migrants’ lives. The mobilization of local communities is a crucial factor in this process. Thus, the project involves various Italian associations, municipalities, and sailing clubs in addition to migrant communities and international rescue organizations.
Landecker Fellow Iason Apostolopoulos - Rescuing refugees in the Mediterranean
Humanity in Action called Landecker Fellow Iason Apostolopoulos to talk about his Action Project.
RAISIN Placemaking & Community Live Conversations with Asha Iman Veal
As part of her RAISIN exhibition, Asha Iman Veal is organizing Placemaking & Community Live Conversations. The event on October 8th features several Landecker Democracy Fellows.
Barriers beyond borders: the realities for asylum seekers from the sea to Athens
On Wednesday June 2, 2021 Landecker Democracy Fellow Iason Apostolopoulos joins the virtual panel "Barriers beyond borders: the realities for asylum seekers from the sea to Athens." The event was co-organized by Iason and 2019 John Lewis Senior Fellow Chryssa Mela.
Event on Pushbacks on the Greek-Turkish Border
On Saturday January 23rd, Landecker Democracy Fellow Iason Apostolopoulos hosted a virtual event "Pushbacks on the Greek-Turkish Border." Iason brought together human rights activists from Greece and Italy in order to shed a light on the state-led illegal push-back activities across the sea and land borders of Greece--activities that have increased dramatically over the past 10 months.
Webinar: How the State Manufactured the Refugee Crisis and the Importance of Social Solidarity and Action
Landecker Fellow Iason Apostolopoulos is invited to talk on a webinar hosted by the social center "Nosotros." This Athens-based group has invited Iason along with other human rights activists who worked on the front-lines of the refugee crisis in the Greek islands.
A Crisis Within a Crisis; Refugees facing Covid-19
Landecker Fellow Iason Apostolopoulos was a panelist on the webinar titled "A Crisis Within a Crisis; Refugees facing Covid-19." Iason is the Rescue Team Coordinator of "Mediterranea Saving Humans," an Italian Association that is active in the Central Mediterranean Sea.