In the past few years, the Aegean Sea has become one of the frontlines in the global refugee crisis. In 2015 alone, over one million migrants attempted to cross from Turkey to Greece over the Aegean. 3,771 people have drowned during their attempt.*
In October 2015, the RNLI were asked by the International Maritime Rescue Federation to provide assistance to the Hellenic Rescue Team (HRT), a volunteer rescue organisation that operates across the Aegean.
How we are helping
After receiving the request, our first response was to donate essential lifesaving equipment to the HRT. This was distributed across the entire Aegean area to help with the migrant rescue effort. This support was further enhanced in 2016 by the donation of two Atlantic 75 inshore lifeboats that had been earmarked for disposal, and the ongoing provision of training and mentoring expertise from RNLI staff to the island of Lesvos.
Our intervention in the Aegean aims to provide support to the HRT and to help develop the existing HRT branch on Lesvos into a capable, credible and sustainable lifesaving branch. We provided the Lesvos team with a RNLI trainer, who is undertaking a 6 month mentoring mission. Working and living with the volunteers in Lesvos, our mentor is seeking to provide not only training in operational lifesaving, but also working to develop the branch infrastructure that supports the delivery of maritime search and rescue (SAR).
Training and Mentoring
Using existing international training protocols, our mentors will train helms and crews to operate the Atlantic 75 lifeboats safely and effectively in the diverse range of SAR skills. Maritime SAR training is supported by activities that seek to develop the Lesvos branch with a focus on creating long term sustainability.