Actualmente se habla de una crisis de la “migración”, sin embargo lo que estamos presenciando es una crisis europea.
El aumento de los flujos migratorios, especialmente aquellos a través de Grecia y los países balcánicos han conducido que varios estados miembros de la UE introduzcan medidas de disuasión aún más drásticas y brutales de las que ya eran!
Recientemente por ejemplo, Dinamarca adoptó medidas excesivas, aunque sólo por un breve período de tiempo, para evitar que las personas migrantes ingresen al territorio a través de Suecia. Días más tarde, estaba claro que esta medida no detenía la circulación de personas; cientas continuaron su camino a pesar de la represión, y se reabrió la frontera.
Así mismo, Alemania retomó medidas internas de control fronterizo, poco después de permitir durante algunos días que las personas ingresen al país. Esta estrategia hipócrita y descarada fue prontamente adoptada también por Austria, Eslovaquia y los Países Bajos. Mientras que Hungría, anunciaba la criminalización de los flujos “irregulares” a su territorio y decidía la extensión de su valla de concertinas en la zona fronteriza con Rumanía; Bulgaria reforzaba el control de sus fronteras con sus casi todos sus países vecinos: Serbia, Macedonia y Turquía.
Por último, no olvidemos que la valla entre Grecia y Turquía es la que conlleva a que la que las personas crucen la frontera externa europea por mar. Un mar, donde una vez más decenas de personas perdieron la vida esta semana.
La UE y su “concepción” de libertad de movimiento intraeuropea se está derrumbando, cada vez más estados miembros intentan cerrar sus fronteras internas. Sin embargo, estas medidas de disuasión son meras tentativas que bajo ninguna circunstancia podrán detener la circulación de personas.
Ni el anuncio del gobierno alemán sobre el cierre de sus fronteras ha dado lugar a un alto – aún miles de personas continúan entrando a ese país. La represión en Hungría sólo ha significado que el flujo migratorio busque y encuentre nuevas rutas – por ejemplo el caso de Croacia. Y, cuando los gobiernos cerraron muchas lineas ferroviarias, la gente comenzó a desplazarse a pie, ocupando carreteras, rompiendo bloqueos policiales y militares, poniendo así en práctica su derecho a la libertad de movimiento.
El teléfono de alarma estuvo esta última semana más ocupado que nunca; asistió 80 casos de emergencia, 76 en el Mar Egeo y 4 en el Estrecho de Gibraltar. Hemos sido testigos nuevamente del ataque de dos embarcaciones por un grupo de enmascarados, presumiblemente unidades griegas, que sustrajeron los motores de las barcos, abandonando así a las personas en una situación de naufragio. Otro grupo nos informó que fueron tomados como rehenes por contrabandistas en un bosque al sur de Turquía. Y en el transcurso de la semana se hizo evidente que las condiciones climáticas en el Mar Egeo habían cambiado; varias personas reportaban la intensidad de las olas, convirtiendo las situaciones en el mar aún más peligrosas.
El sábado, cuatro menores de edad desaparecieron al norte de la isla de Samos después que la embarcación en la que se encontraban, se volcara. Ninguno de ellos ha sido encontrado hasta el día de hoy y el temor de que hayan perdido sus vidas, crece. Según una declaración oficial de la guardia costera griega, una persona de 20 años se perdió cerca de Lesbos, Grecia cuando intentaba llegar a la isla. El domingo, 34 personas murieron en un naufragio en el Mar Egeo, entre ellos 15 bebés y niños. Según las informaciones de las autoridades y noticias griegas, 68 personas fueron rescatadas y otras 30 fueron capaces de nadar hacia algunas islas. Nuestro teléfono de alarma fue informado sobre este caso. No paramos de estar escandalizadas y conmocionadas frente al hecho de que decenas de personas tuvieron que morir por la falta de vías legales y seguras para cruzar las fronteras de una Europa Fortaleza.
Mediterráneo Occidental 7- 13. Sept.
El lunes fuimos alertadas sobre la situación de angustia de 9 personas en naufragio en el mar entre España y Marruecos. Se contactó a Salvamento Marítimo, quien dijo que lanzarían una operación de búsqueda y rescate. Las personas en la embarcación no pudieron ser contactadas, pero a 10.58am Salvamento confirmó el rescate de las 9 personas – que serían llevadas a Tarifa, España (ver:http://watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/257 ).
El miércoles 9 de septiembre de 2015, el equipo de turno del teléfono de alarma fue contactado a las 14:00 horas por una mujer que formaba parte de un grupo de 12 personas que partieron de Marruecos una hora y media antes y se encontraban en en peligro en el Estrecho. Se informó a Salvamento Marítimo y así mismo, se remitió la información sobre el caso a ACNUR. A las 14:15h., pudimos contactar nuevamente a las personas en la patera – pedían desesperadamente ayuda. Durante los siguientes 15 min., hablamos con ellas en varias ocasiones, tratando de obtener más información, de tranquilizarlas y comunicar que un grupo de rescate estaba en camino. A las 14:32 h. Salvamento Marítimo confirmó que habían contactado a las personas de forma directa y habían enviado un barco de rescate. Pudimos entrar nuevamente en contacto con el grupo en patera a las 15:40 h y nos confirmaron que habían sido interceptados/intervenidos por la Marina marroquí. Se encontraban nuevamente la frontera externa, en Marruecos. http://watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/258
El jueves, una persona nos informó acerca de una embarcación con 25 personas a bordo, entre ellas 4 niñas y 1 bebé que habían embarcado en las costas de Tan-Tan, Marruecos cerca de la medianoche. No fue posible contactar al número de la embarcación, así que recolectamos más información de la persona de contacto. A las 19:00 h., ella nos informa que un avión había localizado la embarcación y las personas a bordo esperaban su rescate. Salvamento Marítimo confirmó que una misión de rescate estaba en marcha; su avión había localizado a un grupo de unas 15 personas y si bien, no estaban seguros, parecían estar convencidos de que se trataba de la misma embarcación. Sin embargo, dado que todavía el grupo se encontraba en aguas marroquíes, Salvamento Marítimo nos aseguraba no ser capaces de rescatarlos, pero de informar a las autoridades marroquíes. A nuestra persona de contacto le preocupaba el hecho de que las autoridades marroquíes no irían a rescatar al grupo en naufragio. A las 19:40 pm, nos informa que las personas a bordo estaban agotadas – tuvieron que permanecer durante 4 noches en el bosque, sin comida durante 2, antes de poder salir hacia el mar. A las 19:50pm , Salvamento nos dijo que una operación de rescate estaba en marcha: dos helicópteros españoles se encontraban en la zona y dos embarcaciones de la marina marroquí se acercaban al lugar. Las autoridades marroquíes también confirmaron a las 8:40 am que habían enviado un grupo de rescate, así como uno de sus helicópteros. Días más tarde pudimos confirmar directamente a través de una de la personas que se encontraba en la embarcación, que todo el grupo fue devuelto a Marruecos en buen estado (ver: http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/259 ).
On Monday the 7th of September 2015, the Alarm Phone was alerted to 15 emergency situations in the Aegean Sea, many of which took place near the Greek islands of Agathonisi, Lesvos, Leros, Chios, Samos, and Farmakonisi. Our shift teams worked tirelessly to support the travellers in their dangerous journeys. We have decided to report in greater detail on particularly challenging and novel distress situations and recapitulate the other situations afterwards, in less detail. In the early hours of the day, our shift team was alerted to three emergency cases near the small Greek island of Agathonisi. It was here that a Syrian baby boy had died a few days earlier after his parents had reached the island but could not receive the urgently needed medical support. At 3.04am, we were called by a woman from Macedonia who informed us about a distress case near the island. She passed on three phone number which, however, could all not be reached. At 3.19am we informed the Greek coastguards about the situation and also send text messages to all three numbers, advising them to call the international emergency number 112. At 3.52am, the contact person told us that the vessel had reached the island independently by paddling after the engine had broken down. We passed this information on to the Greek coastguards. At 4.20am, we were notified about a group of 10 women, 32 men and 8 children that had stranded on the Agathonisi about an hour earlier and was without water and food. Through our contact person, we advised the group to move toward a nearby village. At 5.20am, Syrian friends informed us about another group that had stranded in the same region but this time on Nera, an even smaller island close to Agathonisi. They were about 40 people, including women and children. We contacted the Greek coastguards and passed on the GPS position of the group (for the other 11 cases see: http://watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/248).
On Tuesday the 8th of September 2015, the Alarm Phone was alerted to 21 emergency cases in the Aegean Sea – so far the highest number of distress situations ever experienced in one day. On the day we learned about two cases in which travellers were violently attacked. At 1.34am, our shift team was alerted to a distress situation by Syrian friends of the Alarm Phone. They passed on a phone number and GPS coordinates of the vessel and informed us that there were 41 people on board. Following their account, the travellers had been attacked and beaten by masked men who also stole their engine. After many hours of informing both the Greek and Turkish coastguards about the situation, in the end, the Turkish authorities rescued the travellers from a small Turkish island where the group had stranded. We then established direct contact to them. Following their account, the men told them that they would bring them to Greece. However, they dragged them back to Turkish waters instead. A violent conflict escalated on board, leaving two travellers injured. The masked men, who are said to have been Greek, took away their petrol and the engine and left them behind in distress at sea.
On the day, another situation of distress was caused by an attack on a refugee vessel. At 8.55am we learned about a group of approximately 55 people, including 15 children, who were on a vessel in Turkish waters. They were on their way to Lesvos/Greece when they were attacked and their engine was taken away. We received a phone number and their GPS position by our contact person and were asked to notify the Turkish coastguards. We could not get through to the travellers themselves. We reached out to the Turkish authorities who confirmed that they would start to search for the vessel. Our contact person was in direct contact with the group and advised them to stay calm until the Turkish coastguard would arrive. At 10.08am, their rescue was confirmed (for more on these two cases and the other 19, please see: http://watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/249).
On Wednesday the 9th of September, the Alarm Phone was alerted to 14 emergency cases in the Aegean Sea. Three situations were particularly challenging and unique for our shift teams. At about 1.45am, the Alarm Phone was contacted by the brother of someone who had disappeared when trying to swim from Kas/Turkey to Kastellorizo/Greece. We spoke the brother and he asks us to notify the coastguards. Trying to cross the Aegean Sea by swimming is highly dangerous and, since the man had been missing for several hours already, we were very worried. But then, shortly afterwards, the contact person informed us that his brother had actually made it to Greece! We then spoke to the swimmer who asks us for support as he had no clothes and water, and was disoriented between some rocks on the island. Both police and emergency rescue services that we contacted refused to go search for him. Fortunately, shortly afterwards, he said that had found a road.
At 5.19am, we were informed about a group of 45 people, including 10 women and 12 children, who had entered a situation of distress at sea. We were given a phone number as well as coordinates. We reached the travellers and they said that they were very tired, waves were high and they had run out of patrol. We advised them to call the international emergency number 112 which they tried three times, without reaching anyone. At approximately 7.30am, the group told us about their new position, which showed them in Turkish waters. The Greek coastguard then claimed that the group had been rescued to Samos, which, however, was not the case at that point. At 7.54am, we received a new position, showing that they were drifting further south-east. The Greek coastguards told us that they had alerted the Turkish coastguards since the vessel was in their territory. At 8.10am, the Turkish coastguards asked us to confirm whether the vessel was in distress which we confirmed – the engine was clearly malfunctioning and they were drifting in high waves. At 9.23am, the rescue of the group was confirmed to us and a few minutes later the travellers confirmed that they arrived on Samos/Greece. They send us their updated positions, showing that they were moving toward the centre of the island. Asked about whether they needed further support, they just said: ‘We want to go and win’.
In the night we were also alerted to a particularly dramatic and challenging situation. We were informed about a group near Kas/Turkey, who were said to have been taken hostage by smugglers. We received coordinates as well as a phone number. They told us that the smugglers had tried to force them onto a boat but that they refused. Amongst the group were 1 woman and a 3 months old baby who needed urgent medical care. They were now in a forest in the mountains. We informed the Turkish gendarme and explained the situation to them. They said that they could not do much at night. Apparently they had spotted the group from a police vessel but could not come closer to land. They also said that they could not send cars or helicopters due to the terrain. However, one of our contact persons contacted the UNHCR and they said that they would send a helicopter. After approximately 1.16am, we lost contact to the group until 5.58am when we were able to get in touch with them again via WhatsApp. They said that they were still being threatened by people with guns and needed urgent help. At 6.05am the Turkish gendarme confirmed that the coastguard was searching the area for them. At 6.10am we received an update from the group which said that they were already for 24 hours in the forest. The last information we received from the group directly was that the smugglers were moving them away. Then, for about two hours, no information could be obtained. At 8.37am, our contact person told us that they were now with the police. We then informed the UNHCR (for more on these cases and the other 11 cases, see: http://watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/250).
On Thursday the 10th of September, the Alarm Phone was alerted to 11 emergency cases in the Aegean Sea, several through Facebook messages. Due to the workload and the many teams and individuals who were working on these cases on the day, we have kept the documentation so these cases brief. For 6 out of the 11 cases we have confirmations that the travellers had been rescued. For the remaining 5 it was often difficult to obtain such confirmation as we did not have direct phone contact to the travellers (for short summaries of the 11 distress cases, see: http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/251).
On Friday the 11th of September, the Alarm Phone was alerted to three distress cases. We were contacted at 6.26am by a person residing in Germany whose friends had arrived on a Greek island and were without food and water. They were 24 people, including 8 women and 4 children and had lost orientation. We located them on the small island of Glaros, close to Mikro. We spoke to one man of the group at 6.56am. We contacted the Port Authorities on Samos who noted down the details of the case. However, he stated that he would not reach out to the travellers themselves as he would not make international calls – a very absurd statement. At 7.49am, the group said that they were worried about their children and there was also a 4 months old baby amongst them. When the UNHCR opened up at 8am, we called them and informed them about the case. They said that they would contact the Greek authorities as well. In the meantime we received more and more worrying updates from the group – they clearly were in need of immediate assistance. At 10.22am, the Samos coastguards said that they had spotted the group and were in the process of rescuing them. At 11.18am, the group reached out to us again – they had been rescued but not by the coastguards but by a fishing vessel (for more on this case and the other two cases see: http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/252).
On Saturday the 12th of September, the Alarm Phone was alerted to 5 cases of distress in the Aegean Sea. It was clear that the conditions for sea migration had worsened as the weather had changed. Shortly after midnight, our Alarm Phone shift team was alerted by a Syrian activist collective as well as a person residing in Germany about a vessel in distress in the Aegean Sea, carrying about 30 people. We received their GPS position and the information that their engine had broken down. We located them in Greek waters, east of Lesvos Island. At 0:22am, we contacted the Greek coastguards who noted down all the details of the case. Both the Syrian collective and we ourselves tried to reach the travellers but contact could not be established. At 1.14am, the Greek coastguards stated that they were in the process of searching for the people and it became clear that the people had already fallen into the water! Shortly afterwards the contact person in Germany confirmed that the group had been rescued.
We then had two cases in the following hours, for which we have one confirmation of rescue for one vessel and presume the rescue of the second. At 7.19pm, our shift team learned about our fourth distress situation in the Aegean Sea, close to Lesvos Island/Greece. We obtained their GPS position as well as a phone number which we quickly passed on to the Greek coastguards as it was an urgent distress situation. They confirmed that they would send out a search and rescue vessel. At 7.44pm, we received a call from the boat – they were 50 people, including 20 children and 20 women who were very worried as waves were high and water was entering their vessel. Moreover, their engine had stopped working. At 7.55pm, the group informed us via WhatsApp that a small coastguard vessel was approaching them which, they felt, would not be big enough for the whole group. Nonetheless, at 8.58pm, we received the confirmation that they had all arrived on land. It turned out that they were 60 people in total. They were tired but happy and relieved to finally be safe (for more on these two and the other three cases, see: http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/253).
On Sunday the 13th of September, we were alerted to 7 emergency situation in the Aegean Sea. At 1.05am, the Syrian activist collective informed us about a vessel in distress and passed on a GPS position via WhatsApp. The collective had learned about the case via Facebook – 40 people, including children, were on board of a vessel, at risk of capsizing. We then received a phone number of one of the travellers but he could not be reached. When we informed the Greek coastguards at 1.26am, they stated that they had already heard about the situation. They said that weather conditions were bad and that they would send out a search and rescue vessel. Shortly afterwards we received an update from our contact person, saying that the people had made it to the island independently. We then informed the Greek coastguards about it.
About one hour later we received a message about a vessel in the same area of the sea. There were about 100 people on board. The Greek coastguard knew already about the case and, as it later turned out, this was the vessel that capsized, leaving 34 people dead. We had 6 more cases on the day, for which we could obtain 5 confirmation of rescue. For these individual reports see: http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/254).