Many deaths in the Aegean Sea and hundreds stuck on Greek Military Island

In the past two weeks, the Alarm Phone witnessed again the deadly consequences of the EU’s border regime, which increasingly foster suffering and despair throughout Europe’s border zone. While attempts to cross the Aegean Sea are on a constant high despite the seasonal weather conditions, with about 25.000 people arriving in Greece per week, more and more sea crossings turn into fatal accidents. In the last two weeks, we were informed about or directly witnessed at least 7 maritime accidents, with more than one hundred deaths, including many children. Not least due to the EU-enforced presence of Turkish police forces at the coast, travellers are forced to take ever more lengthy and dangerous routes, like for instance in the direction of the Greek island of Farmakonisi, where most of last weeks’ shipwrecks occurred. On Thursday the 10th of December we were alerted to a capsized boat off Farmakonisi. Only six men who had been on the top of the wooden boat were able to rescue themselves by swimming, while 24 others, who were locked in the cabin, drowned. Those who survive and succeed to arrive on this island faced ill-treatment and suffering. For several days, we were in direct contact with hundreds of travellers stuck on Farmakonisi, a Greek military island, left without any food or water and exposed to the harsh weather conditions. International organisations, NGOs and other voluntary aid providers are deterred from entering the island and we already denounced the human rights violations there in a public statement. Transfers to larger islands were repeatedly delayed due to insufficient equipment of the responsible authorities or due to their unwillingness. On Wednesday the 16th of December, the situation on Farmakonisi was especially dramatic with about 400 persons stuck on the island in unbearable conditions, some waiting to be picked up for 4 days.

Alarm Phone in Bi-weekly Report 7-20 December 2015 (FFM-online)