Weekly Reports: Alarm Phone witnessed armed attacks on 6 boats in the Aegean Sea

Bi-weekly Alarm Phone Report 5-18 October 2015

Au cours des deux dernières semaines, l’Alarmphone a été témoin de graves et inacceptables formes de violences commises à l’encontre de voyageurs qui traversaient la mer. En Méditerranée occidentale, nous avons été directement témoins de comment de nombreux groupes de voyageurs ont été interceptés et détenus par la force, dont un groupe qui a même été déporté vers la frontière que le Maroc partage avec la Mauritanie. En Mer Égée, des voyageurs nous ont informé de six attaques de bateaux dans les eaux territoriales grecques. Dans chacun de ces cas, des forces armées et masquées appartenant a priori à la garde-côte grecque ont battu les voyageurs, percé leurs embarcations et volé ou mis hors d’usage leur moteur. Après cela, ils les repoussaient et les renvoyaient jusque dans les eaux turques, dans des conditions de grand danger de chavirement. L’ONG de défense des droits de l’Homme Human Rights Watch a elle aussi enregistré plusieurs de ces attaques contre des bateaux lors des deux dernières semaines.

Ces attaques n’étaient que la pointe de l’iceberg en ce qui concerne les violences signalées par d’autres sources. Comme par exemple au Maroc, dans le camp de Boukhalef, où la police marocaine a attaqué les habitants du camp et détruit leurs tentes. En Espagne, la Marine espagnole a de nouveau bloqué et repoussé un bateau en détresse jusqu’à ce que les autorités marocaines l’interceptent. Il a été également signalé qu’en Bulgarie, un homme Afghan a été abattu par la police aux frontières bulgare pendant un contrôle.

Malgré ces inacceptables actes de violence, le nombre de voyageurs qui tentent de traverser la Mer Méditerranée continue d’augmenter. Avec l’hiver aux portes et les conditions maritimes qui empirent, des milliers d’entre eux risquent leur vie afin de parvenir jusque sur le territoire de l’Union Européenne. La semaine dernière, le nombre d’arrivées en Grèce a même dépassé les chiffres des mois d’été, avec environ 10.000 personnes par jour. Au cours de la seule journée du dimanche 18 octobre, les gardes-côtes grecs ont secouru plus de 90 bateaux avant que midi n’ait sonné. Cependant, cette dernière semaine a aussi vu la mort d’au moins 25 personnes au cours de plusieurs naufrages dans la Mer Égée, dont une moitié d’enfants et de nouveaux-nés.

Nous avons été témoins de tous ces dramatiques et inutiles épisodes de violence aux frontières de l’Europe, tout autant que de la mise en acte de la liberté de mouvement par ces milliers de personnes alors que dans le même temps, les dirigeants de l’UE cherchent désespérément à rétablir leur régime de frontières. En plus de l’installation de ces infâmes ‘hotspots’ en Grèce et en Italie, l’UE inclut à présent également le gouvernement turc plus intimement à l’intérieur de son système de dissuasion, pressant le Président Turc Erdoğan d’empêcher les voyageurs de traverser la Mer Égée sur des bateaux. Nous savons, et nous l’avons su dès le moment où le régime des frontières de l’Union Européenne a été créé, que ces mesures n’empêcheront pas les gens de se déplacer ; elles ne feront que rendre les mouvements humains non-autorisés encore plus longs, coûteux, dangereux et meurtriers. A la lumière de ces événements, nous appelons à la création de voies de passages sûres et légales vers l’Europe et demandons aussi des enquêtes indépendantes sur les violentes attaques et les refoulements en Mer Égée qui mettent délibérément les vies de centaines de voyageurs en danger, quand ceux-ci cherchent protection et abri en Europe.

Summary of cases

In the past two weeks, the Alarm Phone was alerted to 96 emergency situations in total, 90 of which occurred in the Aegean Sea, 1 in the Central Mediterranean and 5 in the Western Mediterranean Sea. Summaries and links to the individual reports can be found below.

Western Mediterranean Sea

In the afternoon of Thursday the 08th of October 2015 a contact person forwarded the number of a boat in distress in the Western Mediterranean Sea to the Alarm Phone. We talked directly to the travellers at 3pm, 10 people on a rubber boat. In a call to the Spanish maritime rescue organization Salvamento Maritimo we learned that both, the Spanish coastguard and the Moroccan navy were already searching for the boat in distress. At 3.31pm the travellers confirmed to us, that the Moroccan navy had intercepted them (see: http://watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/295).

Also on Thursday the 08th of October 2015 the Alarm Phone was informed about more than 120 persons being deported in three buses from the border fence in Ceuta/Spain to the border between Morocco and Mauretania. The Alarm Phone informed its contact persons in Morocco and reported on Twitter about the ongoing deportation. Later we learned that one part of the group was brought to Tiznit and the other to several camps (see: http://watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/296).

On Wednesday, the 14th of October 2015, the Alarm Phone was alerted to two cases in the Western Mediterranean. Both boats were intercepted by the Moroccan Navy, but in one case the rescue was delayed for hours, when the Spanish Salvamento Maritimo and the Moroccan Navy were unable to agree on their responsibilities to conduct the rescue operation (see: http://watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/312).

On Friday, the 16th of October 2015, the Alarm Phone was alerted to one case in the Western Mediterranean Sea. A man from Morocco called us around 1am and told us that friends of his had left Tangier on Thursday night around 10pm. We alerted Salvamento Maritimo at 2.30am, but at 7am we learned that a Moroccan patrol boat had picked up a boat with 11 persons on board (see: http://watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/308).

Central Mediterranean Sea

On Monday the 5th of October 2015 Father Mussie Zerai alerted the Alarm Phone to two boats in distress in the Central Mediterranean Sea. We had direct contact to one of them and eventually the rescue of both boats could be confirmed. On that day, according to the Italian coastguard, several rescue vessels had saved a total of 1830 travellers (see: http://watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/294).

Aegean Sea

On Monday the 5th of October 2015 the Alarm Phone dealt with five situations of distress in the Aegean Sea, near the Greek islands of Chios and Lesvos. While the Greek coastguard rescued one vessel, in one case the Turkish coastguard conducted a rescue operation and in three cases the travellers were able to move on independently

(see: http://watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/297).

On Tuesday the 6th of October 2015 the Alarm Phone witnessed a violent attack on a boat in distress near the Greek island of Lesvos that was subsequently pushed back into Turkish waters. Beyond that, we dealt with two emergency situations, in which one boat was rescued by the Turkish coastguard and one by the Greeks

(see: http://watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/298).

On Wednesday the 7th of September 2015 the Alarm Phone was alerted to three boats in distress in the Aegean Sea, near the Greek islands of Lesvos, Chios and on Astypalaia. Again, one boat was attacked by the Greek coastguard near Lesvos and subsequently pushed back into Turkish territorial waters. The travellers reported en detail about these violent acts and the Alarm Phone will forward the details of the case to the Greek ministry to ask for further investigations and to human rights NGOs to follow-up

(see: http://watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/299).

On Thursday the 8th of October 2015 the Alarm Phone was alerted to five situations of distress in the Aegean Sea, near the Greek island of Lesvos, Samos and Agathonisi. The Greek coastguard rescued two groups of travellers while three other groups were returned to Turkey. Turkish fishermen had rescued one group and another group was rescued by the Turkish coastguard (see: http://watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/300).

On Friday the 9th of October 2015 the Alarm Phone dealt with five emergency situations in the Aegean Sea, near the Greek island of Chios, Lesvos and Samos. While one boat arrived on Lesvos independently, the Turkish coastguard rescued one boat and returned the travellers to Turkey. They told us that their engine had been stolen as well. In one case a group of travellers stranded on the Greek island of Samos and in two cases rescue cannot be confirmed because the Alarm Phone could not re-establish contact to the travellers (see: http://watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/305).

On Saturday the 10th of October 2015 the Alarm Phone dealt with a total of 9 boats in distress in the Aegean Sea, near the Greek island of Lesvos, Agathonisi, Kos and Samos. In 5 cases the Greek coastguard rescued the travellers and in one case the Turkish coastguard conducted a large rescue operation. One boat reached Greece on its own but in two cases rescue cannot be confirmed by the Alarm Phone, because we lost contact with the travellers (see: http://watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/306).

On Sunday the 11th of October 2015 the Alarm Phone dealt with a total of 11 emergency situations in the Aegean Sea, near the Greek island of Farmakonisi, Agathonisi, Lesvos and Samos. In 5 cases the travellers were finally rescued by the Greek coastguard or arrived at Greek islands on their own. The Turkish coastguard rescued 3 boats and one returned to the Turkish coast independently. In two cases we could not confirm the rescue of the boats, as we were not able to re-establish contact to them (see: http://watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/311).

On Monday the 12th of October 2015, the Alarm Phone was alerted to two distress cases in the Aegean Sea, close to the Greek islands of Kos and Chios. While the boat near Kos was rescued by the Greek coastguard, it was the Turkish coastguard who conducted a rescue operation with respect to the boat near Chios. More than 150 travellers on board were returned to Turkey (see: http://watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/301).

On Tuesday the 13th of October 2015, the Alarm Phone was alerted to nine distress cases in the Aegean Sea, close to the Greek islands of Samos, Lesvos and Chios. Two of the boats had been attacked near Chios by masked men, who broke the engine and left them behind without fuel, a third group had stranded on a small Turkish island and reported as well to have been attacked the night before. As we learned later on, also this attack happened close to the island of Chios, thus in close proximity to the other attacks

(see: http://watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/302).

On Wednesday the 14th of October 2015, the Alarm Phone was alerted to eight distress cases in the Aegean Sea, close to the Greek islands of Lesvos, Farmakonisi and Chios. In all eight cases the travellers eventually arrived in Greece, either on their own or by the help of the Greek coastguard (see: http://watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/303).

On Thursday the 15th of October 2015, the Alarm Phone was alerted to ten distress cases in the Aegean Sea, close to the Greek islands of Kastellorizo, Agathonisi, Levitha, Chios and Samos (see: http://watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/307).

On Friday the 16th of October 2015, the Alarm Phone was alerted to two distress cases in the Aegean Sea, near Lesvos and Agathonisi. In one case the travellers reported to us that they had been attacked and that their engine had been taken away (see: http://watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/304).

On Saturday the 17th of October 2015 the Alarm Phone was alerted 7 cases of boats in distress in the Aegean Sea, near the Greek islands of Lesvos, Chios and Kastellerizon. Beyond that, one group had stranded on the Greek island of Farmakonisi and was evacuated by Greek authorities. Two boats were able to re-start their engine and to move on independently, while two boats were rescued by the Greek coastguard. In three cases the Turkish coastguard conducted rescue operations and returned the travellers to Turkey

(see: http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/309).

On Sunday the 18th of Ocotber 2015 the Alarm Phone dealt with a total of 10 emergency situations in the Aegean Sea, near the Greek islands of Farmakonisi, Agathonisi, Glaros, Chios and Lesvos. The Greek coastguard rescued 4 boats in distress north of Lesvos and 3 east of Chios. In one case close to Farmakonisi rescue was confirmed to us, but it remained unclear by whom. Beyond that, two groups of travellers had stranded on the islands of Agathonisi and Glaros, but were saved afterwards (see: http://watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/310).

[i] https://www.hrw.org/news/2015/10/22/greece-attacks-boats-risk-migrant-lives

[ii] https://beatingborders.wordpress.com/2015/10/19/destruction-in-boukhalef/

[iii] http://canariasnoticias.es/canarias/hernandez-bento-cree-sorprendente-la-llegada-de-2-mujeres-sirias-en-patera-canarias-si-se

[iv] http://bulgaria.bordermonitoring.eu/2015/10/16/no-tears-for-killed-afghani-migrant/

[v] http://missingmigrants.iom.int/en/weekend-greece-arrivals-exceed-peak-summer-day-totals

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    Alarm Phone Bi-Weekly Report 5-18 October 2015

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