The latest, timely article on the Rethinking Refuge platform has been written by DPhil candidate Imogen Dobie. Titled ‘Making the Maritime Visible: Rethinking Humanitarianism at Sea’, the article questions the traditional perception of humanitarian work as being territorial, “based in refugee camps, aid compounds, or medical clinics”, arguing that the sea is an important setting of humanitarian activity. Imogen’s research looks at how the current lack of engagement with maritime forms of aid work perpetuates misconceptions about what ‘humanitarianism’ really looks like, and seeks to broaden the perception of where it can be found.
As she writes, humanitarians do indeed work at sea, though their work at sea differs from that on land – while food and medical care are still important, at sea they are more focused on “the most visceral and basic act of saving a life by pulling it out of the waves”.
And in the current context of “continued movement by forced and voluntary migrants and increasing securitisation on the part of European states, the need for humanitarian assistance at sea is more pressing than ever.”