Group stranded on Farmakonisi Island/Greece, rescued

06.08.2015 / 10:20 / Farmakonisi Island/Greece

Watch The Med Alarm Phone Investigations - 5th of August 2015

Case name: 2015_08_05-AEG33
Situation: Group of travellers stuck on Farmakonisi Island for days, rescued
Status of WTM Investigations: Concluded
Place of Incidents: Aegean Sea, Greece

Summary of the case: On Wednesday the 5th of August 2015, in the morning, the Alarm Phone was alerted to a group of travellers that had left Turkey and stranded on the Greek island of Farmakonisi. We received their GPS position but were not able to reach them directly. At approximately 10.55am, we spoke to the UNHCR Greece and they confirmed that they had received a call from a man located in Sweden who had told them about the group of travellers. They said it was likely that they would be found quickly due to the small size of the island. We agreed that they would contact the local authorities on the neighbouring island of Leros to alert them to the group.

At about mid-day, the travellers contacted us via WhatsApp and reported that they had been exposed to the heat for many hours and were without any water. They asked for urgent rescue. Shortly afterwards the UNHCR informed us that the Leros police was aware of several groups on Farmakonisi. The group then told us that they were 70 people, including 11 women and children. We then contacted the police station on Samos Island, as advised by the local authorities on Leros. They said that they would contact the coastguard which would rescue them and transfer them to the harbour police which would then register them and pass them on to the police. We called the harbour authorities on Leros Island who were unwilling to give us any information. We then also contacted the Hellenic Rescue Team to inform them about the situation and told the stranded group to call 112. In the afternoon, at around 5.11pm, the harbour authorities on Leros stated that the group was expected to be brought to Leros by a military vessel.

On the 6th of August the Leros harbour authorities told us that they were continuously transferring people from Farmakonisi to Leros but they could not confirm whether this was also the case for the group in question. Through the news we learned that the Greek coastguard has rescued 533 people on the 5th of August in the Aegean Sea, including Farmakonisi (source 1). In the afternoon, we were contacted by the group again. They said that they now were about 200 people. Following their account, families with small children had already been transferred but the men were still stuck on the island, without being given food. Afterwards they could not be reached again. The UNHCR told us that the Leros harbour authorities had capacity problems and would need to focus on the most vulnerable first. We found out later on that the group had been transferred to Leros Island.
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Layers »
  • Border police patrols
    While the exact location of patrols is of course constantly changing, this line indicates the approximate boundary routinely patrolled by border guards’ naval assets. In the open sea, it usually correspond to the outer extent of the contiguous zone, the area in which “State may exercise the control necessary to prevent infringement of its customs, fiscal, immigration or sanitary laws” (UNCLOS, art. 33). Data source: interviews with border police officials.
  • Coastal radars
    Approximate radar beam range covered by coastal radars operating in the frame of national marine traffic monitoring systems. The actual beam depends from several different parameters (including the type of object to be detected). Data source: Finmeccanica.
  • Exclusive Economic Zone
    Maritime area beyond and adjacent to the territorial sea in which the coastal state exercises sovereign rights for the purposes of exploring and exploiting, conserving and managing the natural resources, whether living or non-living, the seabed and its subsoil and the superjacent waters. Its breadth is 200 nautical miles from the straight baselines from which the territorial sea is measured (UNCLOS, Arts. 55, 56 and 57). Data source: Juan Luis Suárez de Vivero, Atlas of the European Seas and Oceans
  • Frontex operations
    Frontex has, in the past few years, carried out several sea operations at the maritime borders of the EU. The blue shapes indicate the approximate extend of these operations. Data source: Migreurop Altas.
  • Mobile phone coverage
    Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) network coverage. Data source: Collins Mobile Coverage.
  • Oil and gas platforms
    Oil and gas platforms in the Mediterranean. Data source:
  • Search and Rescue Zone
    An area of defined dimensions within which a given state is has the responsibility to co-ordinate Search and Rescue operations, i.e. the search for, and provision of aid to, persons, ships or other craft which are, or are feared to be, in distress or imminent danger. Data source: IMO availability of search and rescue (SAR) services - SAR.8/Circ.3, 17 June 2011.
  • Territorial Waters
    A belt of sea (usually extending up to 12 nautical miles) upon which the sovereignty of a coastal State extends (UNCLOS, Art. 2). Data source: Juan Luis Suárez de Vivero, Atlas of the European Seas and Oceans

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