Centre for Humanitarian Action at Sea

The Context

The ongoing humanitarian crisis at sea, most notably in the Mediterranean, has escalated dramatically, with over 26,000 persons reported dead or missing since 2014. This crisis is expanding due to a notable increase in the use of various sea routes for migration. As such, the role of maritime rescue, a duty steeped in international law and seafaring tradition, has become increasingly crucial. However, the fulfilment of this duty is complicated by legal risks, financial costs, and occasional non-compliance by some states, leading to a growing humanitarian catastrophe.


The Aim of the Project

The Centre for Humanitarian Action at Sea aims to address the global humanitarian crisis at sea by serving three primary functions. First, it will establish a High-Level Dialogue platform to convene stakeholders from diverse sectors, facilitating discussions on challenges and solutions to Search and Rescue (SAR) operations. Second, it will coordinate research, advocacy, diplomacy, and technical expertise on the imperative of saving lives, becoming a hub for comprehensive analysis of the humanitarian crisis at sea. Third, it plans to expand the fleet conducting SAR operations across various maritime routes. Situated in Geneva, the Centre leverages the city's position as an international hub for refugees, maritime, and humanitarian organizations.

Read the Report on Mass Rescue at Sea: A Global Perspective, 2023.



Caroline Abu Sa'daCaroline Abu Sa’Da - Founder and Executive Director – SOS MEDITERRANEE

Caroline Abu Sa’Da is currently the Executive Director of SOS MEDITERRANEE in Switzerland. She has led humanitarian programs in the field, notably in the Middle East and the Horn of Africa, for Oxfam GB, the United Nations and MSF (Doctors Without Borders) Switzerland. Dr Abu Sa’Da is the author of numerous papers, reports and chapters on humanitarian action, NGOs and the Middle East, as well as books, and has taught political science at New York University, Paris; Sciences Po, Lille and the University of London. Caroline has also been the Director of the Research Unit of MSF Switzerland, and the Editorial Responsible for the International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights in Geneva. She holds a PhD in Political Science and International Relations from Sciences Po, Paris, and will be awarded a doctorate honoris causa by Lausanne University in June 2023.

Richard WattsRichard Watts - Director - HR Maritime

Richard Watts has spent his entire career working within the maritime industry with a particular focus on the carriage of physical commodities. After 7 years working for two of the leading independent rice trading companies, Richard created HR Maritime in 2008 in order to provide bespoke professional services and training to the Trading and Shipping Industry. HR Maritime enjoys a wide range of clients both in Geneva and in the wider Shipping and Trading Community. Richard has a passion for teaching and assisting companies to reduce inefficiencies wherever possible. Richard also works extensively with exporters and importers from less developed countries to help them access the global market and increase their involvement in the entire value chain. Richard is increasingly focusing on the requirements and opportunities presented by the need for decarbonisation and more generally achieving sustainability in the business of Trading, Shipping, Finance and supply chain logistics. Richard is the President of the Geneva branch of The Propeller Club and a Fellow of The Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers. Richard is also the President of SOS Mediterrannee Suisse.


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