Public event

Search and rescue in the Mediterranean Sea

Photo by: Raphael Schumacher/SOS Humanity

Asylum-seekers and migrants worldwide risk their lives and embark dangerous journeys on unsafe vessels to seek international protection from persecution, conflict, or better life opportunities. The Mediterranean Sea is currently the deadliest sea for those seeking protection in Europe. Between January and August 2023, more than 2,300 people have lost their lives or have gone missing while attempting to reach Europe via the Mediterranean.

Maritime law requires rendering assistance to any person found at sea in danger of being lost. However, European states have reduced large-scale search and rescue efforts, favoring cooperation with third countries for interceptions and returns. European NGOs conducting rescue operations have faced legal actions.

This panel discussion aims to shed light on the current situation in the Mediterranean. Speakers will offer insights from their active involvement in search and rescue operations and discuss the main challenges for search and rescue operations. The discussion is part of the Fundamental Rights in Practice event series, hosted by the Centre for Fundamental Rights. The event is hosted in association with the MIRO project

Prior registration is required for this event. 



  • Ana Carolina Fisher is a second year MIA student (Human Rights and Global Governance track) at the Hertie School. She has a bachelor’s degree in Law from the Federal University of the State of Rio de Janeiro and an LL.M. in International and Comparative Law from the George Washington University. She has conducted research for several organisations on topics such as the incarceration of migrant children, economic empowerment of women in the Americas, and division of unpaid care work in the EU. Ana recently worked as a Human Rights Observer on board of the Humanity 1 and is now part of OSF’s strategic litigation program.

  • Sasha Ockenden is the Social Media and Public Relations Officer at SOS Humanity, a Berlin-based NGO that carries out search and rescue operations of refugees and migrants crossing the Mediterranean. He was on board the rescue ship Humanity 1 for its sixth rescue mission, from June-July 2023, as Communications Coordinator. Sasha holds degrees from the Hertie School (MIA, 2018), and the University of Oxford (BA Modern Languages, 2015). He has also worked in communications for the NGOs Sea-Watch, Tactical Tech and Doctors for Madagascar, as well as Germany’s international development agency (GIZ).
    Photo by: Raphael Schumacher/SOS Humanity

  • Julian Pahlke is a member of the German Bundestag (Bündnis 90/Die Grünen) since October 2021. In parliament, he represents Bündnis 90/Die Grünen on the Committee on Interior and Home Affairs, the Committee on European Affairs, and serves as a deputy member in the Committee on Human Rights and Humanitarian Aid. He is also a part of the German delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, where he is a member of the Migration Committee. Before being elected to the German parliament, Julian has been actively involved in civilian sea rescue in the Mediterranean.


  • Grażyna Baranowska is a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Postdoctoral Fellow at the Hertie School in Berlin and an Assistant Professor at the Polish Academy of Sciences. She is the Principal Investigator of the MIRO research project. Grażyna has worked as a Policy Advisor on enforced disappearances in the German Institute for Human Rights and supported drafting the General Comment on enforced disappearances and migration of the UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances. Since August 2022, she is a member of the UN Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances.