Operating in the Northern coastline of Lesvos

After two weeks of operations on the island of Lesvos, Sea-Watch has assisted numerous rubber boats ensuring the safety of their passengers on their way to the shores of Lesvos.

The crew has been operating in the Northern coastline of Lesvos, where most arrivals have been concentrated so far. In the latest days, the number of migrants boats reaching the Northern Coast has decreased and partly shifted towards the Eastern Coast.

The changing weather conditions as well as the recent developments in the political context, influence the intensity of arrivals, even if it has been reported (BBC News: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-34682034) that smugglers offer discounted prices to migrants for traveling in bad weather conditions.

On Friday 27th a shipwreck in Turkish waters reported 60 people dead, including a high percentage of children. The number of casualties is however not confirmed and the bodies have been taken back to Turkey by the Turkish Coast Guard. On the same day and the one before, the Spanish lifeguards from the volunteer organization Proactiva Open Arms has assisted three number of boats sinking and managed to take all the passengers safely on the shores, with only two jet-skies and the collaboration of the local Hellenic Coast Guard.

For technical issues, no other volunteer rescue team were available, including Sea-Watch, whose RIB got damaged a couple of days earlier and is still undergoing reparations.

Sea-Watch will be back at sea by the end of this week. Meanwhile, the Coordinating Team welcomed the next crew and is continuously working to establish a coordination network with the other rescue organizations present on the island. The aim is to establish a system of shared efforts in patrol and emergency response in case of distress, based on shifts and common SOPs.

The crew is also supporting the land efforts by offering first assistance at the beaches of arrivals and making its medics available, while helping to clean up the shores from the thousands of life-vests and hundreds of rubber boats accumulated on the shores all over the island.
The main collaborators of Sea-Watch for the rescue activity include the above mentioned Spanish organization Proactiva Open Arms; the Dutch Refugee Boat Foundation, offering support on both land and sea; Greenpeace, which is operating with four RIBs and MSF personnel on board; and two Greece-based organisations, namely the Hellenic Life Guards and the Hellenic Red Cross.

During its operations so far Sea-Watch has not been involved in POB (Person Over Board) incidents, requiring to be rescued from the water. The Coordinating Team is working to prepare the crews for such scenario, by training them on SOPs and technical knowledge from SAR experts, providing psychological support and ensuring the presence of a (possibly Greek speaking) SAR professional. To do so, Sea-Watch is working on sharing know-how with the other rescue organisations and testing possible external crew members that can assist on board in the most difficult circumstances.

So far, the presence and work of Sea-Watch has been well received and appreciated by the Coast Guard and the other rescue organisations. However, most remains to be done at sea, where the migrants keep engaging in the short yet incredibly dangerous journey across the Aegean, towards Europe.

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