Watch The Med Alarm Phone Investigation – 23rd of April 2015Case name
: Approximately 40 people in distress on Oinousses Island/GrStatus of WTM Investigation
: ConcludedPlace of Incident
: Oinuousses Island, GreeceSummary of the Case
: On Thursday the 23nd of April 2015, the shift team of the Alarm Phone received a distress call in the early hours of the day. The contact person reported that about 40 people, including 8 children, had left Syria and were on their way to Greece. They had troubles with their vessel which started sinking but they were able to reach the coast of an island. The shift team understood that the place in question was the Greek island of Oinousses. The passengers had already tried to alert the Greek authorities but were unable to reach them. They asked for assistance and the shift team contacted the Greek authorities and passed on the obtained information, including phone numbers and coordinates.
The Greek coastguards told the shift team that they were not responsible for that area and passed on numbers for us to call. The shift team contacted JRCC Piraeus and was told that they would send someone to check on the situation. However, when contacting the authorities in Piraeus again, hours later, it became clear that they still had not sent out anyone to the people in distress. At last, they confirmed that a rescue operation would take place. The shift team reached out to the people on Oinousses Island again and gave further advice.
For hours, contact to the Syrian refugees could not be established. The shift team contacted the UNHCR in Greece and Turkey, JRCC Piraeus, the Ministry, and the Hellenic Police. Then, the shift team was able to reach the refugees again. They had already moved to a town and were waiting to be transferred to Chios. The UNHCR later confirmed that the local police on the island had found the group of Syrians who would be brought to the island of Chios shortly (see also source 1).