Since the mid- 1990s , more than 20,000 migrants died in the Mediterranean in their attempt to reach Europe. Boats went adrift and sank under the eyes of coast guard ships, surveillance patrols of Frontex and sometimes military buildings (during the NATO intervention in Libya for example). Too often, the obligation to provide assistance to boat-people in danger, recognized by international conventions, was not respected.
For several years many African and European organizations challenged their governments about the deaths of migrants in Mediterranean as well as at all the borders of the European Union and its overseas territories. Facing the silence of Europe, that closes itself in rejection of exiles and repressive policies that criminalize migration more and more, these organizations decided to put their efforts together to take action.
In July 2011, Boats 4 People was born as a coalition around a project: to charter a boat of solidarity in the Mediterranean sea. This action aimed at monitoring the sea border in order to point those responsible for deaths and disparitions of boat-people.
A year later , in July 2012, the project was implemented. Following the international antiracist meeting in Cecina, the Oloferne leaves the Tuscan coast to reach Palermo (Sicily) and Monastir where stood the preparatory days of the World Social Forum. Crossing ends at Lampedusa at the film festival on migration. Activists , lawyers and journalists were on board to sail the migration route, the opposite way it is usually crossed by boat-people. At each stage of the journey, a series of events were organized (press conferences, commemorations, flyering, film projections, debates).
When preparing this project, the need to film this action was evident for all members of Boats 4 People. The coalition contacted Nathalie Loubeyre, director, and Joel Labat, cameraman, who participated in all stages of the Mediterranean crossing. This videographic media is of particular importance for Boats 4 People Besides the desire to share an extraordinary action taken by activists from Africa and Europe, the film aims to raise awareness, mobilize public opinion and continue the struggle for the rights of boat-people.
This crossing action has sent a strong message to both civil society and authorities of Europe and Africa: there can be no impunity at sea ! The Law of the Sea must be respected. More generally , freedom of movement should not be recognized only to national of countries of the North, but to all human beings. Freedom of movement must be reciprocal and his struggle necessarily involves a strengthening Euro-African solidarity in terms of migration and human rights of migrants, in which participates Boats4People .