Alarm Phone in Contact with 2,450 People in 62 Distress Situations


Photo: Alarm Phone

Introduction

Over the past 8 weeks, the period of time this report covers, the WatchTheMed Alarm Phone was engaged in 62 distress cases in the Mediterranean Sea, involving about 2,450 migrant travellers. Approximately 1,350 people did not reach Europe as they were returned to their places of departure. The fate of many dozens of people remains unknown.

In the Central Mediterranean Sea, we were alerted to 24 emergency situations, involving about 1,371 migrant travellers. Eleven boats were intercepted, or presumed to have been intercepted, by the so-called Libyan coastguards and returned to Libya. Five boats were rescued to Italy, three of which by NGOs. Three boats, including one from Tunisia, were rescued to Malta, including one rescued by an NGO. The fate of three boats remains unknown. We received first-hand testimonies of two shipwrecks, costing the lives of approximately 140 people. Via the Central Mediterranean route, about 7,300 people have reached Italy or Malta so far this year. Along this route, about 640 deaths were counted – but it can be said with great certainty that there were many more fatalities than those recorded.

25 distress situations took place in the Aegean Sea, involving approximately 520 individuals. Here, 19 boats reached Greece while six were returned to Turkey. Some of the groups that reached out to us had already reached Greek islands independently but needed further assistance. We also assisted a group in distress between Serbia and Bosnia – one person is said to have died in this emergency situation. Via the Aegean Sea route, about 26,000 people have reached Greece so far this year.

13 boats reached out to us from the Western Mediterranean Sea, involving about 560 people. Eight boats were rescued to Spain – on one of these boats rescued to Spain, a woman died. Five boats were returned to Morocco. Via the Western Mediterranean route, about 15,900 people have reached Spain so far this year. 

Relentlessly, we do our best to accompany those on the move. We dedicate our work once more to those who lost their lives while trying to reach a place of protection and freedom. We will never forget them and will keep their memory alive in every moment of our struggle against the violent European border regime.

CASE REPORTS

You can find short summaries and links to the individual reports below.

The Central Mediterranean Sea

On Monday the 8th of July, at around 3 am CEST, the Alarm Phone received a distress call from a boat carrying 25 travellers which had departed from Libya. The traveller on the phone told us that water was entering the boat, but the connection was interrupted before we could gather more information. Unfortunately, we were never able to re-establish connection with the travellers so their fate is unknown. http://www.watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/1273

On Saturday the 13th of July we were alerted to two boats in distress. The first boat, carrying 54 travellers was probably intercepted by the so-called Libyan Coastguard. The second boat, carrying 14 travellers was rescued to Italy. http://www.watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/1274

On July 25th the Alarm Phone received many desperate calls from different boats throughout the day. One boat with 25 travellers reached us but GPS position was not complete and so authorities couldn’t be informed. Most probably they were intercepted to Libya. One boat with 50 travellers onboard disappeared. The third boat with 72 people was, as well as the fourth boat with 100 people, most probably intercepted by the so-called Libyan Coastguard. http://watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/1279

On July 26th at 01.25am CEST the Alarm Phone were alerted to a boat in distress said to carry about 60 people. They were in the water already 27 hours when they called the hotline. Our shiftteam didn’t receive a GPS position but nevertheless contacted Malta around 1pm CEST. The operator was uncooperative and left the Alarm Phone without any information about ongoing rescue operations. We repeatedly called the authorities. Only at 6:30pm CEST we got the confirmation about a rescue of 67 people to Malta in a white boat that was at sea for over 40 hours. http://watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/1280

On Wednesday the 31st of July at 8.05am CEST the Alarm Phone was alerted by relatives to a boat in distress carrying 37 people, including 20 women of whom several were pregnant. We were not able to establish a direct contact to the boat and did not know their exact position. Only the following day in the afternoon did we receive information from the relative that the travellers had been brought back to Zuwarah by a Libyan commercial vessel. http://www.watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/1282

On Thursday the 1st of August the Alarm Phone was alerted to three boats in distress in the central Mediterranean Sea. Two boats were rescued by the civil rescue ship Open Arms, whilst one boat was intercepted by the Libyan coastguard. http://www.watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/1283

On Wednesday 7th of August 2019, the Alarm Phone was alerted at 12.25h by a boat in distress off the coast of Libya, coming from Zawiya and carrying approximately 40 people. The boat was later intercepted by the so-called Libyan coastguards and brought to Tripoli in Libya. http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/1287

On Thursday the 8th of August 2019, the Alarm Phone was alerted to two boats in distress off the coast of Libya. The first boat carried approximately 80 people and was rescued by SOS Mediterranée’s rescue vessel Ocean Viking the following day. The second boat carried approximately 90 people and was intercepted by the so-called Libyan coastguards the following day. http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/1288

On Friday the 9th of August 2019, at approximately 21h, the Alarm Phone was called by a wooden boat in distress off the coast of Libya, carrying 45 people, including 1 woman. They were in dire need of rescue. They were later rescued by the NGO Open Arms. http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/1289

On Tuesday the 13th of August the Alarm Phone was alerted to three boats in distress in the Central Mediterranean region. The first boat had departed from Libya carrying 80 travellers. Their fate is still unknown. The second boat had departed from Tunisia with 25 persons on board and was probably rescued to Malta. The third boat which had also departed from Libya carrying 32 travellers, was intercepted by the so-called Libyan coastguard. http://www.watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/1290

On Sunday the 18th of August, at 5 pm CEST the Alarm Phone was informed by a fisherman from Tripoli, Libya, that he had rescued 3 people, 2 men and 1 woman, who were found floating in the debris of a shipwreck. The survivors, who were taken back to Tripoli, claimed that they had been travelling with over 100 people on the boat that sank, and that they were the only ones who survived. The fisherman told us that there were dead bodies on the site of the shipwreck and that no authority had gone to collect them. The Libyan authorities told us that they had no information and it appeared that they had not launched any operation. We fear that this might be another undocumented case of shipwreck in the Central Mediterranean Sea. http://www.watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/1291

On August 24 in the afternoon, the Alarm Phone received a call from a group of travelers who had started from Libya 32 hours before. Their engine was working, so they were still moving forward but they reported that, for several hours, they had seen a Libyan military boat and three airplanes passing by that took photos of them without interacting with them further. Our connection to the travelers broke off and could never be reestablished but we assumed the people were intercepted and brought back to Libya through EU-Libyan collaboration. http://watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/1276

On August 25 in the afternoon, our shift team received a distress call from a group of approx. 50 travelers who had started from Garabouli, Libya, the night before. Their engine was broken. When we managed to understand their GPS location, we informed the Maltese Coastguard at 06:10pm and as they stated to be very busy and could not talk to us, we also informed the Italian and Libyan authorities at 08:45pm and learned that the Italians were aware of the case and had put it in charge of the Libyans. We could not reestablish the contact to the travelers and assume they were intercepted by the so-called Libyan Coastguard. http://watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/1277

On August 27th at 03.34 am CEST the Alarm Phone received a call from a satellite phone. The person informs us that they departed from Al Khums 3 hours earlier. The engine of their boat, which carrying up to 100 people, stopped. The travellers stated that people have died already. Our shift team asked for a GPS position but the Alarm Phone didn‘t receive it. Last contact with the boat was 03:54 am CEST, they shouted “come to near Khums” into the phone. We emailed to MRCC Rome and the so-called Libyan Coastguard at 04.13am CEST. When we tried to reach the authorities in Libya by phone, all given numbers were first not reachable. Only 3 hours later the Alarm Phone were told that they found the shipwreck and detected about 90 people. It is still unclear, how many have died, and how many survived. http://watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/1281

On 1st of September the Alarm Phone was alerted by various relatives after a boat was missing since 28th of August. The shiftteams supported the relatives in their search and sent an email to the authorities in Italy, Tunisia und Malta. As often experienced the authorities refused to give any information. Luckily we found out that the boat was found by an Italian military ship and and all 29 passengers were brought to Pozzallo. http://watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/1304

The Aegean Sea

On Wednesday the 10th of July at 2.43pm CEST the Alarm Phone was alerted to a boat in distress near the island of Farmakonisi. We were informed that the engine was not working properly, and that the Greek coastguard had already been alerted. We were not able to establish contact with the boat but approximately 20 minutes later we were informed that the boat had been rescued to Greece by the Greek coastguard. http://www.watchthemed.net/reports/view/1254

 On Friday the 12th of July the Alarm Phone was alerted to two distress cases in the Aegean region. The first case concerned 39 travellers who reported having been attacked and intercepted by the Turkish coastguard. The second case concerned a group of 11 travellers stranded on the island of Strongily who were eventually rescued by the Greek coastguard. http://www.watchthemed.net/reports/view/1255

On Sunday the 14th of July in the early morning, the Alarm Phone was alerted by a contact person to a boat in distress in Turkish waters carrying 20 travellers. For one hour our shift team unsuccessfully tried to establish contact with the boat. At 3:05am CEST we called the Turkish coastguard. Ten minutes later, the Turkish coastguard called us back and informed us that the boat had already been rescued and brought back to land.            http://www.watchthemed.net/reports/view/1256

On July 16, our shift team was alerted to two travelers stranded on Symi island, one of them a 70-year-old woman. After establishing a direct contact our shift team informed the port police on Symi island who confirmed they had found them and brought them to Symi port. http://watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/1260

On July 20, the Alarm Phone was alerted to a boat carrying 17 travelers, among them 4 women and 1 baby. Their engine had stopped 3 hours ago, and they were drifting in Turkish waters and had started to sink. Shortly after we got in touch with them, they informed us that the Turkish coastguard had arrived to return them to Turkey. http://watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/1261

On July 22 at 05:35am CEST the Alarm Phone gets alterted by a speed-boat with 9 travellers in distress near the Greek island Kos. We inform the Greek Coastguard, who confirmed the rescue to Greece, but they confirmed only the rescue of 7 persons. They state that two travellers fell into the water and therefore have been rescued by the Turkish Coastguard. http://watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/1262

On July 24 at 09:05am CEST the Alarm Phone was alerted to a boat towards Lesvos, near the city of Mitylene. We alerted the Greek Coastguard but it seems that the close position to the port of Mitylene raises some doubts if the people are still on the water. After checking it we called again Greek Coastguard and one hour after we received the call the rescue of 25 people, among them 5 children, 2 women and 18 men were confirmed by the authorities. http://watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/1263

On July 26 in the early morning our shiftteam was alerted to a boat with 35 travellers in distress in Turkish waters. At 03:46am CEST a direct contact was established to the boat. 50 minutes later the Turkish Coastguard confirmed the rescue and some minutes later we got a confirmation also by the travellers. http://watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/1264

On Monday the 29th of July at 3.05am CEST, the Alarm Phone was alerted by a contact person to a group of around 22 people, including five children, who had arrived to the Greek island Pasos. We alerted the Greek coast guard who confirmed that they would send a boat to transport the people from the beach where they were stranded. After this we were no longer able to reach the group of travellers, but the Greek coast guard later confirmed to us that all travellers were safe and had been brought to Chios. http://www.watchthemed.net/reports/view/1265

On Tuesday the 30th of July at 3.04am CEST, the Alarm Phone was alerted by a contact person to a group of 25 travellers stranded on the Greek military island Farmakonisi. We immediately reach the travellers, but due to technical issues it was not possible to communicate. At 4.00am we called the Greek coast guard, and half an hour later we managed to speak to the travellers who informed us that they had been taken by the military to facilities on Farmakonisi. After this it was no longer possible to reach the travellers, and only in the evening did we learn from the contact person that the travellers were all safe and had been taken to Leros. http://www.watchthemed.net/reports/view/1266

On Friday the 2nd of August at 5.00am CEST, the Alarm Phone was alerted by a contact person to two people who were stuck on the Turkish rocky island Kizil Ada Asasi. We immediately reached the travellers who told us that they were not able to get off the island. We therefore informed the Turkish Coastguard who confirmed that they would send a boat to pick them up. At 8.10pm we were informed by the Turkish Coastguard that the travellers had been rescued and taken to Marmaris. http://www.watchthemed.net/reports/view/1267

On Sunday the 4th of August at 3.34am CEST, the Alarm Phone was alerted by a contact person to a group of 17 people, including four children, who had arrived to the Greek military island Farmakonisi. At 3.42am we reached the travellers who urged us to call for help. We immediately called the Greek coastguard, who confirmed that they would search for the people. At 4.37am the travellers informed us that they were with the Greek military on the island and were waiting to be transferred to another island in two hours. Afterwards we were no longer able to reach the group, but in the evening the contact person confirmed that all travellers were fine.      http://www.watchthemed.net/reports/view/1268

On Monday, 5th of August 2019, the Alarm Phone was alerted at 7.51am CEST to a boat carrying 35 people south of Lesvos/Greece. When we spoke to the migrant travellers at 7.55am, they were screaming for help. They had already reached Greek waters. We informed the Greek coastguards at 8am and passed on all the information we had gathered. We also send them an updated GPS position of the boat about 20 minutes later. The Greek authorities said they would reach the distressed boat soon. At 8.44am, the rescue of the boat was confirmed. http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/1284

On Tuesday, 6 August 2019, the Alarm Phone was alerted at 11.11h CEST to boat in distress, carrying about 25 people north of Nimos Island. We were never able to establish direct contact to the boat. In the afternoon, at 17.03h, the Greek coastguard confirmed to us that they had carried out a rescue and rescued 26 people. We believe this is the boat that we had been alerted to. http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/1285

On Monday the 12th of August in the early morning, the Alarm Phone was alerted to a boat in distress heading towards Farmakonisi, carrying 26 travellers. Contact with the boat had broken down. At 6.37 am CEST our shift team called the Turkish coastguard asking if they had rescued a boat corresponding to ours. They informed us that they were rescuing a boat in the area where our boat was located, near Didim. Although based on the information shared by the Turkish coastguard we believed that the rescued boat was our boat, we did not receive confirmation from the travellers themselves. http://www.watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/1292

On Tuesday the 13th of August in the morning the Alarm Phone was alerted by a worried relative to a boat in distress that had departed from Turkey carrying 30 travellers, including 11 children. The relative who alerted us had lost contact with the boat. After failing to establish any contact with the boat ourselves, we called the Turkish coastguard at 11.48 am, asking whether they had information. An officer told us that a boat had been rescued earlier in the morning. However the rescued boat was found further north from the boat we were alerted to and was carrying more travellers. In the early afternoon we received confirmation that the boat had arrived to Samos. http://www.watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/1293

On Friday the 16th of August at 7 pm CEST, the Alarm Phone was alerted to a group of six travellers, including two children, who were stranded on the Greek side of the border, near Lavara. Our shift team immediately called the travelers who told us that they had a three-months old infant with them. We passed on the information to the relevant authorities in Didymoteicho as well as UNHCR. At 9 pm the border police told us that they would send a car to pick up the stranded travellers. At around 11 pm we called the Didymoteicho Hospital and asked to send an ambulance. At half past midnight we spoke to the border police again who informed us that they had been looking for the travellers but could not find them. The following morning at 8.30 am the border police told us that they might have located some people but did not give further information. At 10 am the border police confirmed the rescue. http://www.watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/1294

On August 20, at 11:30am CEST our shift team was alerted by a group of around 20 travelers who had tried to cross the border between Serbia and Bosnia via the river near Banja Koviljača. One person had drowned in the river and the others were lost. Finally, the police found the group but could not find the dead body due to rising water in the river. http://watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/1269

On August 22 in the morning, our shift team was alerted to a boat with 17 travelers, among them 7 children and 4 women, in distress in Greek waters near Chios. We alerted the alerted the Greek coastguard who confirmed the rescue of this boat at 11:26am. http://watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/1270

August 23 in the morning, our shift team got alerted to a boat with around 30 travelers in Greek waters, south of Lesvos. At 9:35am CEST we informed the Greek coastguard. After some difficulties to find the boat, they confirmed the rescue of the group at 12:00pm. http://watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/1271

On August 24 in the evening, a journalist alerted our shift team to a Turkish refugee, stranded for 12 hours at the Greek island of Strongyli. At 8:30pm we alerted the Greek coastguard. At 10:45pm we receive the confirmation that the person was found and brought to Kastellorizo, Greece. http://watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/1272

On August 25 in the evening, our shift team was alerted to a boat with approx. 30 travelers close to Symi island, Greece. At 9:11pm CEST we alerted the Greek coastguard but at 9:43pm thetravelers landed by themselves on the island. The group split up and we could not reestablish the contact, so it took us 3 days to find out that the whole group (27 travelers) was safe and had finally been transferred to Leros, Greece.http://watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/1275

On 27 August in the early morning hours our shiftteam was alerted to a boat with 12 travellers, among them 4 women and 3 children, north of Kalymnos. At 2:07am we alerted the Greek coastguard. At 4:09am the travellers told us that they had been rescued by the Greek coastguard, in fact, they were still on the vessel being transported to Leros. http://watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/1298

On 28 August at 5:35am our shiftteam got in contact with 22 travellers on a boat in distress. Their engine had stopped working close to Kalymnos. Shortly after we alerted the Greek coastguard. At 6:17am the travellers confirm the arrival of the Greek coastguard vessel and later told us that they had been brought to Kalymnos. http://watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/1299

On 29 August at 7:50am our shiftteam was alerted to a boat with 20 travellers sailing towards the island of Kos. At 8:00am we could establish a direct contact to the people who seemed to be in panic. At 8:01am we alerted the Greek coastguard who confirmed the rescue of the group in question at 9:25am. http://watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/1300

The Western Mediterranean

On July 16, in the evening our shift team was alerted to a convoy of two boats in distress in the Western Mediterranean Sea, carrying 74 travelers, among them 21 women and 3 children, respectively 72 travelers, among them 24 women. Both groups were rescued to Spain by the Spanish Coastguards Salvamento Marítimo Almería in the early morning but one woman had died. http://watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/1257

On July 17, the Alarm Phone was alerted to two boats in the Western Mediterranean Sea. In the first alert there were 13 travelers, all men, the second group consisted of 54 people, among them 3 women, one of them pregnant. Both groups were picked up by the Moroccan Navy and returned to Morocco. http://watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/1258

On July 19, the Alarm Phone was alerted to one boat in the Western Mediterranean Sea, carrying 58 travelers, among them 12 women and 3 children. Their rescue by Salvamento Marítimo was confirmed by a relative of one of the travelers. http://watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/1259

On Wednesday the 7th of August 2019, we were informed by a relative at 16.47h CEST about a boat in distress in the Western Mediterranean Sea, carrying 59 people, including 8 women and 1 child. They had left from Nador/Morocco at 3am in the night. Contact to the boat had been lost. For several hours, we tried to establish direct contact to the boat but were unable to do so. … Also the next day it was unclear whether this boat had been found or not. Salvamento Maritimo stated that the Moroccan navy had rescued 60 people, including 8 women and 1 child. We were unable to verify whether this was the boat we had been alerted to but think it is likely.http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/1286

On Thursday the 15th of August at around 8.30 pm CEST, the Alarm Phone was alerted to a boat in distress carrying 63 travellers, including 5 women. The boat had left from near Bouafra in the early morning and our contact person had lost contact with the boat. Our shift teams tried to establish contact with the travellers but were not able to. At 9.25 pm we called the Spanish coastguard and were informed that a boat with 63 travellers had been rescued by Moroccan navy. Later in the evening our contact person also confirmed the rescue.      http://www.watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/1295

On Saturday the 17th of August at around 3.30 pm CEST, the Alarm Phone was alerted to a group of travellers stranded on Charafinas island. They were 49 travellers including three pregnant women, three infants and one asthmatic person. Our shift team immediately tried to establish contact with the travellers but without success. At 4.15 pm we called the Spanish coastguard. 40 minutes later we were informed that the travellers were with the Spanish coastguard and were being brought to Melilla. We called the Spanish coastguard ourselves and they confirmed this information. http://www.watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/1296

On Sunday the 18th of August in the late afternoon, the Alarm Phone was called by a traveller on a boat in distress carrying 7 people. The boat was a zodiac with no motor and had departed from near Tangier. They could see ships in the distance but no land. Soon after, they called us back and told us that they had been intercepted by the Moroccan navy and were being brought back to Morocco. http://www.watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/1297

On August 20 in the early morning, our shift team received a call from a group of 11 people who had left from Mostaganem, Algeria, the day before at 06:00pm. Several people were sick, they had run out of fuel and needed rescue, but we could not find out their GPS location. At 05:06am we informed the Spanish Coastguard who stated they could not search for them without a more precise location. We stayed in contact with the travelers and at 07:15am they gave a detailed description of a yacht close to them. Meanwhile the Spanish Coastguard had been informed about the travelers’ boat by the same yacht and at 09:23am the rescue was confirmed. http://watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/1278

On 27 August the Alarm Phone was alerted to a boat with 12 travellers rowing from Achakar. At 12:13pm CEST contact to the travellers was established and a GPS position received. Our shift team passed this information to the authorities and also called the company of a German tugboat nearby. The Alarm Phone was informed that the crew of the tugboat would stand by until the coastguard arrived. At 1:03pm our shift team was informed by the travellers that they had been rescued to Spain. http://watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/1302

On 28 August, during the late morning, our shift team was alerted to a boat of 66 travellers having left from Morocco at 4am CEST, among them 15 women and 3 infants. The Alarm Phone was provided with phone numbers but was never able to establish a direct contact to the boat. At 3:15pm CEST the Alarm Phone was informed that the boat was most likely rescued by Moroccan Navy. http://watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/1303

On 29 August, our shift team was alerted to a pirogue of 23 people, amongst them 7 women (including 1 pregnant) and 3 children, having left from Boujdour, Moroccan Sahara. We were provided with phone numbers but were never able to establish a direct contact with the boat. We alerted all responsible authorities from Spain and Morocco and monitored their search missions which continued until 30 August. On 1 and 2 September, there were press reports of a rescue of a migrant boat between the Canary Islands and Morocco of similar description to our case. We were able only on September 10 to get hold of the migrant travellers – they had all survived and were brought by a Turkish ship to the Canary Islands. http://watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/1301

 

Our main working language is English, so the English version of the website will be the one most up-to-date. However, we will also continuously work on updating the website in all the other languages.

Our Sister Organisation

Watch the Med Logo
// include wp-footer wg cookies