UPDATE: Surge in arrivals and improved cooperation with authorities for the time being

Refugees are still arriving on Lesvos every day. Lesvos remains the main point of landing for people crossing from Turkey. UNCHR statistics show that while considerably less people arrived in the early months of this year, the opposite is true for the months of May, June and July. During these months 37% more people arrived than during the same period last year, most of them women and children.

We wanted to share this video to remind you and everybody who sees this that cooperation is possible. It is our primary goal to avoid shipwreck and make crossing the Aegean Sea safer and our work remains as important as ever. Cooperation between authorities and NGOs is possible and should be a key component in achieving our goal.

Increasingly we have been helping when people land on rocks and parts of the island that remains inaccessible for the Coast Guard and its boats. We often assist to transfer people from bigger boats straight to the coast to help them reach safe land faster.

Over half of the people arriving are women and children. We often witness boats that have more children than adults on board. On August 18th, such a boat landed in Korakas, with 7 men, 9 women and 17 children on board.

Families often try several times to cross the Aegean Sea as they stopped by Turkish authorities. The potential risk of being stopped by Turkish authorities contributes to the fact that crossing the Mediterranean remains dangerous. In order to avoid being stopped by Turkish authorities, people take high risks when crossing. The EU-Turkey Deal is still risking lives of innocent people fleeing war and violence every day.

We also observe that children are often dehydrated leading to vomiting upon arrival. Many adults that arrive also suffer from pre-existing chronic conditions. Conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure do not only form a risk in themselves, but they furthermore lead to anxieties that often result in panic.

First medical aid and professional search and rescue is more important than ever! We commit to providing those in need with help and work hard to make the Aegean Sea safer.

Here a little glimpse of what this cooperation looks like:

PRESS RELEASE: A dangerous turn in rhetoric against NGOs may cost lives

As the rhetoric within Europe takes a turn towards criminalizing NGOs, rescue teams on the ground, in Lesvos and elsewhere, are facing harsher interference that puts a strain on their life-saving operations. Refugee Rescue has been operating on Lesvos since 2015, always cooperating with other NGOs, rescue organisations, and the Hellenic Coast Guard.

During the past months, the Hellenic Coast Guard and local authorities have made operations increasingly difficult for Refugee Rescue and their SAR boat, “Mo Chara”. This has now reached a point where lives may be at risk.

The Hellenic Coast Guard has threatened fines should Refugee Rescue fail to give 24 hours notice before launching a rescue mission. A 24H report requirement is unworkable, since a refugee boat may appear at any given moment. This has prevented Refugee Rescue performing immediate rescues and has greatly constricted their operation.

Crew on land have been met with threats and demands to leave their posts. These posts are vital for spotting any incoming boats. In one incident, Refugee Rescue volunteers were threatened with a firearm. Previous threats were less brutal, although all threats are a challenge to diplomacy on the island.

After a long period of diplomatic difficulties with the Hellenic Coast Guard, the land crew has now been forced to leave their positions. This is despite compliance and successful collaboration in the past.

The safety of the Refugee Rescue crew has been compromised to such an extent that rescue missions are in danger. These arbitrary conditions, imposed by national and EU-authorities, ultimately put the lives of refugees at risk.

Refugee Rescue is present in Lesvos because refugees keep coming in. The crossing in unsafe and unseaworthy, overloaded vessels can be swamped with water, gasoline, or both. The people who arrive on these boats are heavily traumatized, physically injured, and are often in shock when they reach the shore.

Refugee Rescue is a professional SAR team with the ability to provide medical aid. There is no doubt that NGOs are needed, as, to date, they have saved thousands of lives. Governmental rescue-institutions and most of the larger help-organisations have left Lesvos, which leaves refugees under perilous and life-threatening circumstances.

Refugee Rescue is here to help and ready to cooperate. By remaining in Lesvos, we help ensure compliance with international Search And Rescue standards, as well as international human rights.

For more information, please contact info@refugeerescue.co.uk.

26 refugees rescued safely - relieved and smiling.

This photo sees the shared smiles between Refugee Rescue crew member Isabel and a young boy she helped off the rocks and to safety.

At 04:53 this morning we had a shout that refugees were on a beach around the coast from Skala. Our fantastic crew were 9 minutes from bed to boat. The Mo Chara crew assisted 26 people, amongst them many tiny little children, off the secluded cove they had been smuggled into, around the coast again and into Tsonia harbour.

There, our land crew, along with our partner NGO's, helped these 26 with medical care, water, food and dry clothes.

This was a really nice landing for our crews and for the refugees. We needed it after the darkness of this past week.

Happy smiling people, relieved and safe.

Photo permissions kindly granted.

 

Article from Frontex who was on scene who we cooperated with and they boarded our boat Mo Chara so they could help us get the people to safety:

http://www.amn.pt/Media/Paginas/DetalheNoticia.aspx?nid=1573

Shipreck! At least 16 dead. Refugee Rescue pulls body of teenage girl from sea

Monday 24th April 2017 - a sad day. The crew received an SOS call that there was a shipwreck and bodies in the water. The crew worked hard for hours to find survivors to unfortunately only recovered this teenage girls body. Many souls perished this day but through a miracle 2 survived including a pregnant lady. 

There was little world news reported on this tragic event and if they did they don't mention the humanitarian rescuers that were there finding and taking bodies from the water. We need to remain to prevent anymore deaths at sea. 

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-europe-migrants-idUSKBN17Q0UL

 

Refugee Rescue find 8 kids on rocks, dumped by smugglers in water!

It was 3rd April 2017 at 6:15 in the morning when we saw the fire in the distance.  26 people were on the rocks waiting for help. Smugglers are increasingly dumping desperate families in the waters, reportedly at gunpoint. Refugee Rescue found them cold and wet. The operation took over 3 hours to complete and we called in the help of fellow rescuers Proactiva so we could board all the refugees and bring back to port safely.

What an 'assist shout' is like for Refugee Rescue

Refugees towed by Frontex unnecessarily for 2 hours and people are hypothermic, when we could have helped. Refugee Rescue go to assist a refugee boat. When we get there Frontex (Border Control) have decided to tow them to a far away port rather than safe lands closer due to Golden Dawn (Fascists) tensions in that area. Towing is a dangerous option, particularly in these conditions. We need to be there to help.

 The news report pbs.org/newshour/bb/tensions-rise-in-greek-fishing-village-that-welcomed-migrants/ shows the people landed on the shore, freezing. #stayhuman #togetherwecanhelp #welcomemocharas date with our team on Lesvos....

Smugglers dump refugees on rocky cliff face. Team leads complex rescue

Today a smuggler dumped 12 people into the water on rocks on sheer cliff face, including a small baby, 3 teenage girls and an elderly woman of 80 who was hyperventilating. Refugee Rescue team completed a very difficult rescue with our boat Mo Chara, the only vessel that could get close enough to board the refugees and bring them to safety. Well done crew!! THANK YOU. Our hard work continues and we still need your support