Friday night, November 4, a boat carrying approximately 25 people arrived close to Kalo Limani, Lesvos north west.
After arriving people fled to the Woodson in several groups in the surrounding area to hide from Greek authorities, fearing that if they were found they would be illegally returned to Turkey.
Saturday morning at 07.00 Aegean Boat Report was contacted by several groups hiding in the hills around Kalo Limani, they all asked for assistance so that they could be taken to camp and be able to apply for asylum.
They provided documentation on their presence on the island, pictures, videos and location data left no doubt that the groups was on Lesvos.
We tried to provide them with the necessary means, so that they themselves could act, this to try to prevent them from being pushed back. The groups explained that they were part of a bigger group, but the total number of people in the boat they arrived with seemed unclear. From pictures and videos provided we were able to identify approximately 25 people.
Due to the fact that it’s weekend, the newly arrived refugees had problems finding an organization who responded on the phone, even do they were given numbers who usually works, but then mostly only on weekdays.
After 10 hours one of the groups was able to get response, and late on Saturday night, 7 people was located, 3 woman (2 pragment) 3 men and 1 child was eventually found and taken to the quarantine camp in Megala Thermi, Lesvos north.
During the time organizations was not responding, several cars without license plates was observed in the area, and later driving from the area, if there were refugees inside these cars is unknown, but after now knowing that over half the group is missing, it’s highly likely.
Sunday morning, November 6, 3 more people from this group made contact, and was in the afternoon taken to camp in Megala Thermi. A total of 10 people had been found, but as many as 15 more people seemed to be missing from this group.
On Saturday night, November 5, a life raft was found drifting outside Dikili, Turkey carrying 9 people.
From pictures and videos that they had sent while still on Lesvos the previous day, there is no doubt, these 9 people was from the group that arrived the previous day in Kalo Limani, Lesvos north west.
So the question is how did they end up drifting in a Greek manufactured life rafts outside Dikili, Turkey?
By now everyone knows the answer to this, but still Greek authorities continues to deny any involvement, as if these people suddenly had decided to go back, found a life raft and paddled back to Turkey. Not a very plausible explanation but this is what the Greek authorities wants you to believe.
Since March 2020, we have registered 1.807 pushback cases in the Aegean Sea, performed by the Hellenic coast guard, involving 48.083 men, women and children: 636 of these cases was performed by using rescue equipment/life rafts, 16,620 people have so far been left drifting in 986 life rafts in the Aegean Sea
We understand that organizations working on the islands is working under extremely difficult conditions, and that they are doing their best, in a very difficult situation to try to prevent people from being pushed back after they arrive on the island.
When that is said, we can’t help stressing the fact that to have phones only operational on weekdays within office hours, puts vulnerable people, who usually arrives after dark, also on weekends, in an extremely dangerous situation.
When people arrive it’s usually only a matter of time before they are located by authorities, so time is of the essence. When these vulnerable people are trying to make contact with organizations on the ground for over 10 hours, without getting any response, anyone understand that there is a huge potential for improvements.
When these organizations do not want to cooperate with organizations not working locally on these issues, we must urge them to at least give vulnerable people arriving, who are in grave danger of being beaten, robbed and illegally deported, a way on reaching them, and not only on weekdays within working hours.
We must also add that people on the move are extremely grateful for the assistance these individuals and organizations have provided, and we know that things are more difficult and complicated than it might seem standing on the outside looking in. We try to fend for those who contact us as a last cry for help, when something seems to be not working properly, or at times not at all, it’s our responsibility to point this out. We can’t tell desperate people who contact us that we can’t help them, because we can, and we will.
To support the work of Aegean Boat Report: https://aegeanboatreport.com/donate/