Fleeing to seek refuge in Europe, thousands of people have died making the short sea crossing from Turkey to Lesvos. Setting off in flimsy rubber boats and wearing fake life jackets, many find themselves heading for rocks or sand banks that can readily capsize or sink a dinghy. Others abandoned by smugglers who drop them at beaches inaccessible via land. Our Search and Rescue crew and emergency response team are on call 24/7, working to prevent any more lives being needlessly lost to The Aegean.
Since the beginning of 2018, Refugee Rescue has directly assisted over 2500 people arriving to Lesvos by sea, over half of which we were women and children. The last few months have been the busiest we have experienced since the implementation of the EU-Turkey deal in 2016. As long as there is no option of safe and legal passage to Europe, people will continue risking their lives unnecessarily, forced to take what is now one of the world's most perilous migratory routes in search of refuge.
Refugee Rescue is a humanitarian Search and Rescue organisation in the region. Our rescue boat "MoChara" and crew are on call 24/7, ready to respond in the event of an emergency, day or night. From rescuing people abandoned at the foot of inaccessible cliffs, to intercepting fragile dinghies and guiding them to safe landing zones, to facilitating transfers with authority vessels: our work on land and sea seeks to make this perilous crossing a little less dangerous for those seeking refuge.
Much of the work we do is preventative, identifying and intervening in high-risk situations, before they have the chance to develop into catastrophic mass casualty events. Once people are on dry land, we work on meeting basic needs to keep people alive and functioning, distributing emergency blankets and water, and working alongside partner NGOs to provide shelter, food and access to medical care.