On the evening of December 16, the Alarm Phone hotline was alerted by relatives to a missing boat at sea between Lebanon and Cyprus. The white fiberglass boat had departed from Lebanon 5 days earlier, on December 11, with 85 people on board, among which 35 children. The relatives had lost contact with them since Tuesday, December 12, evening. They shared with us some of their names. The next morning, on December 17, after trying to reach the people on the boat without success, Alarm Phone alerted JRCC Larnaca as well as Cyprus port and marine police by phone and e-mail, which told us that they had rescued on Friday a boat with 84/85 people, and that we should call back on Monday, December 18th to get more information. We forwarded the alert to the Occupied Turkish Territory of Northern Cyprus, the UK military base on Cyprus, the Turkish Coastguards in Ankara and the Greek Coastguards in Piraeus. The alert was also sent to the Cypriot human rights organization KISA, which started to investigate.
On December 18, Alarm Phone was told that the 84/85 people were in Pournara camp, information that families asked us to verify. On December 19, KISA got informed by the officer of Asylum Service at Pournara camp that none of the missing people whose names were shared by the families were actually in the camp. We thus extended the research and called the Lebanese Navy Forces as well as the Lebanese Red Cross on December 19. We also informed the Cedar Center for Legal Studies in Lebanon, which got in contact with the families of the disappeared and started to investigate their fate as well. The same day, the Alarm Phone also released a Tweet to make the case public. In the evening, relatives informed Alarm Phone that family members based in Cyprus were told by authorities that the people were detained in a deportation unit of the Kofinou camp. They were scared that people could have been already deported to Lebanon. On December 21, the UNHCR in Cyprus started to investigate in the camps, in detention centers and by contacting the police, without finding the people. They passed on the information to the UNHCR offices in Lebanon, Turkey and Greece.
Since that day, the families of the disappeared, KISA, Cedar Center for Legal Studies and Alarm Phone are trying to find out information about the whereabouts of the 85 persons. We demand the authorities to support the investigations and to give answers to the families.
11 DEC: A boat with 85 people, including 35 children, departs from Lebanon around 2 pm local time.
12 DEC at 20:00: The families lose contact with the people on the boat.
16 DEC, 21:51 CET: Alarm Phone is alerted by relatives about the missing boat. They provide a partial list of names. We are unable to contact the people on board.
17 DEC, 09:42 CET: Alarm Phone alerts JRCC Larnaca (Cyprus coast guards) by phone. The Officer tells Alarm Phone that a boat of 85 people was located on Friday 15 and safely accompanied to shore. Police then took over but the officer couldn’t tell Alarm Phone where the people were brought to.
17 DEC, 09:56 CET: Alarm Phone calls Cyprus Port and Marine Police. Duty officer says that they rescued 84/85 people on Friday 15. They ask Alarm Phone to call again on Monday morning in order to get more information.
17 DEC, 14:31 CET: We send an email to alert to JRCC Larnaca, Cyprus Port and Marine Police, the UK Military Base on Cyprus, Kyrenia Turkish CG, MRCC Ankara in Turkey, MRCC Piräus in Greece. The alert is also sent to the Cypriot human rights organisation KISA.
17 DEC, 15:30 CET: Alarm Phone calls Kyrenia Turkish CG, Limassol Police Immigration Centre and police headquarters in Cyprus. We don’t get any information.
18 DEC, 08:07 CET: Call to Cyprus Port and Marine Police. According to the officer, many boats have arrived since the 11th of December and they would not be able to help.
18 DEC, 08:17 CET: Call to TCG Kyrenia. They give us a WhatsApp number to which we should send the information. We never got any reply.
19 DEC, 11:19 CET: KISA informs us that they got the information, from the officer of Asylum Service at Pournara camp, that none of the missing people whose name were shared by the families were actually in the camp.
19 DEC, 12:25 CET: We extend our research and alert Lebanese Navy Forces, who tell us that they would investigate and call back, as well as the Lebanese Red Cross. We alert the Cedar Center for Legal Studies in Lebanon about the case.
19 DEC, 14:31 CET: Alarm Phone releases a Tweet to make the case public.
19 DEC, 18:56 CET: Families inform Alarm Phone that the people might be detained in the deportation unit of Kofinou Camp on Cyprus, close to Larnaca. They fear that some or all of the people could have been deported to Lebanon.
20 DEC, 09 :47 CET: Alarm Phone releases an update Tweet.
21 DEC: UNHCR on Cyprus starts to investigate in the camps and detention centers and by contacting police stations. It seems that the missing people we are looking for aren’t in camps or police stations. They pass on the information to the UNCHR offices in both Lebanon, Turkey and Greece.
22 DEC, 11 :09 CET : Alarm Phone releases an update Tweet.
28 DEC, 10:18 CET: Alarm Phone sends another email to Cypriot, Lebanese, Turkish and Greek authorities as well as to the UK military base on Cyprus to urge them to further investigate on the whereabouts of the people and to search for signs of an invisible shipwreck.
28 DEC, 13:00 CET: Alarm Phone calls Kyrenia Turkish CG to ask information following our email and urge them to search for the people. They tell us that they don’t have any information.
28 DEC, 16:00 CET: Alarm Phone calls JRCC Larnaca and MRCC Ankara to ask information following our email and urge them to search for the people at sea. They have no information.
29 DEC 12:02 CET: Call to JRCC Larnaca. They say that they didn’t find anything matching our information, they confirm that there is no ongoing operation by their own vessels but they sent warnings to all vessels in the area about the missing boat after our email. They didn’t receive any signal until now. They say that all the boats in their area were rescued, so we should check again with the Turkish authorities in Northern Cyprus because “there is a chance that the people already arrived there”.
29 DEC, 15:00 CET: We send an email with an updated list of names of the missing people to all the involved actors including UNCHR in Cyprus.
03 JAN, 17:38 CET : Alarm Phone releases a final Tweet.
Until now, there is still no reliable information on the whereabouts of the 85 missing people.
Our hearts are with the missing people and their families.