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[ 10. Nov 2015 ]

Alarm Phone Report 26th Oct - 1st Nov 2015

Watch the Med Alarm Phone

Most deadly week of 2015 in the Aegean Sea, Alarm Phone alerted to 100 distress cases. Last week's dramatic events have once again demonstrated that there is no alternative to opening the borders of Europe in order to stop the numerous and unbearable deaths at sea.

 

Most deadly week of 2015 in the Aegean Sea, Alarm Phone alerted to 100 distress cases

November 01, 2015

Between the 26th of October and the 1st of November, the Alarm Phone experienced the most emergency cases since its launch about one year ago. Within just 7 days we were alerted to a total of 100 cases of distress - all but one in the Aegean Sea - and were able to provide help and support to several thousands of travellers both on boats in distress at sea and to those who had stranded on several Greek islands. In doing so, we cooperated with and relied on the invaluable work of numerous volunteers, contact persons and support networks, who forwarded distress calls to us, provided us with information and helped us to follow-up on the many incidents. The sharp rise of alerts to the Alarm Phone also reflects the enormous increase of border crossings in the Aegean Sea, where more than 210.000 travellers have entered the European Union within the last month alone - about as many as in the entire year of 2014.[1] Without any prospect of legal entry and with weather conditions becoming even worse in the weeks ahead, travellers in need of protection seek to use their last chances to enter Europe through dangerous and life-threatening sea crossings.

As a fatal consequence, the past week was also the most deadly week of this year in the Aegean Sea, where since January more than 450 people lost their lives. Last week, in at least 7 fatal shipwrecks, more than 100 travellers drowned, including many children and infants, and many more are still missing.[2] It was only due to the brave and self-sacrificing actions of Greek and Turkish fishermen and many lifesaving volunteers, who went to the sea to rescue women, children and men who went over-board, that hundreds of further deaths could be prevented.[3] The Alarm Phone was alerted to and directly witnessed the dramatic shipwreck of a wooden boat with more than 300 travellers on board, which had capsized north of the Greek island of Lesvos on Wednesday the 28th of October. After this incident alone, more than 50 travellers were found dead or are still missing. In another alert on the same day, the Alarm Phone was informed about a 5-years old boy whose life was lost after a group of travellers had stranded on Agathonisi and whose body was washed ashore on the following day. However, fatal incidents not only occurred in the Aegean Sea. At least 39 travellers lost their lives in the Western Mediterranean Sea, after Spanish authorities had only belatedly responded to SOS calls by activists and thus had protracted a swift rescue operation.[4]

Against this background, calls for a radical change in European border politics are getting louder and louder. Spyros Galinos, the mayor of Lesvos, proposed to make use of passenger ships in order to carry travellers safely from the Turkish coast to the Greek islands. Other Greek politicians have urged prime minister Alexis Tsipras to tear down the Evros fence and to open the border between Greece and Turkey, in order stop travellers from risking their lives in the Aegean Sea.[5] In the Greek village of Kastanies, on Saturday the 31st of October, about 500 protestors have marched to the border fence and called for its destruction. The Alarm Phone has for a long time stressed the necessity of such ferry lines and of safe entry routes. Last week?s dramatic events have once again demonstrated that there is no alternative to opening the borders of Europe in order to stop the numerous and unbearable deaths at sea.

[1] http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/nov/02/record-218000-people-crossed-mediterranean-in-october-un-says

[2] http://missingmigrants.iom.int/en/migrants-continue-flow-greece-balkans

[3] http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/30/world/europe/as-more-children-drown-volunteers-on-greek-island-say-rescues-are-left-largely-to-them.html?_r=0; for a statement of the Spanish lifeguards from 'Proactiva Open Arms' see: https://www.facebook.com/HumansOfTheRefuge/posts/905500376165323

[4] http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/10/29/oestp-inmigracion-marruecos-espa-a-idESKCN0SN2IZ20151029

[5] http://www.ekathimerini.com/202994/article/ekathimerini/news/new-refugee-drownings-in-aegean-prompt-tsipras-outcry; http://www.euractiv.com/sections/global-europe/tsipras-under-pressure-tear-downturkish-border-fence-319103


See the full report on :: alarmphone.org