Category: Pushback and Human Rights Violations
Number of people: 35 (12 women, 11 children)
On 1 March 2020, we are alerted by another boat in distress off the coast of Lesvos, carrying 35 people, including 11 children.
At 11:57h, we forward their distress to the Hellenic Coast Guard and share their GPS location. The people are urgently asking for help. As in previous cases, the people report that their engine and their petrol had been stolen in an attack at sea.
Spotters on the shore in Lesvos document the presence of at least two different boats nearby: one Hellenic Coast Guard vessel and one Italian Frontex vessel. Again, instead of rescuing the people in distress, they are just circling around them.
At 14:52h, the people inform us that water started getting into the boat. They tell us that everything is wet and that they are scared to be forced to spend the night at sea. We are witnessing another case of non-assistance while the world is watching!
Even though we regularly inform the Coastguards of the updated positions of the boat in distress, they remain inactive. People start rowing with their bare hands in order to reach land.
At 21:48h, only after we informed the authorities in Mytilene that the boat had a hole and that the people were in immediate danger of drowning, they confirm that they are conducting a rescue. The people in distress had waited for over 12 hours before being rescued. Letting them wait so long at risk of drowning was torturous.