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Response to UK downsizing search and rescue of refugees

Monday, 5 October 2015

Save the Children response to reports of UK downsizing search and rescue capacity of refugees at sea.

Justin Forsyth, CEO Save the Children, said:

“Last month, 159 people, including 35 children, drowned crossing the Aegean Sea, making September the deadliest month yet for refugees and migrants crossing from Turkey to Greece.

“Save the Children is extremely concerned by reports that the UK is withdrawing HMC Protector and HMC Seeker, the final two boats involved in proactive search and rescue, meaning a reduced capacity for Europe to save lives at a time when rescue missions are most needed. Usually we see a reduction of crossings and casualties as the weather turns colder but that is not happening this year.

“7000 people arrived on the Greek islands yesterday alone, the same day as the appalling discovery of the dead bodies of another baby and toddler washed up on the island of Kos.

“Save the Children emergency response staff report that 15 children have died attempting the same journey as Alan Kurdi, whose tragic death captured international attention one month ago.

“Since Europe decided to restart the rescue in April, thousands of lives were saved - not least by Britain’s own Royal Navy. We are facing the biggest refugee crisis since the second world war, a defining moment in our generation, and must ensure that our response efforts are equal to the task. The priority must remain stopping people from drowning, not border control.”

Notes to Editors:

Quotes from refugees arriving in Greece in September:

“I could see Greece but the engine was breaking down and I didn’t think that we would make it. I thought, is that really a child on this boat that is filling with water? And how can children be forced to do travel like this? I don’t care about me, but why children?” – Amal, man, 23, Syria

“He (the smuggler) stopped the boat 30 metres away from the shore and told us all to get out and swim to Greece. But I had my 18 month old baby, so I said no. The smuggler picked up my child and threw him into the water so everyone would jump in. When I was in the water, I kept screaming. When I was studying medicine in university, never did I think that one day, someone would throw my baby into the sea.” – Dr. Abeer, 29, from Syria, travelling with her husband who is also from Syria.

Save the Children’s Response in Greece:

  • Food provisions in the two main camps on Lesvos, providing approx. 13,600 people with 1 hot meal/day including 3000 children
  • Child Friendly Spaces (CFS) structures at one of the camps – 1,030 children participated in recreational activities
  • We are continuing bus services between point of arrival and the camps on Lesvos, with approx. 20 buses/day, each carrying between 50-60 passenger

Save the Children is responding to the refugee crisis in the countries of origin, on route and when they arrive. We work in the countries they are fleeing – countries like Syria, where brutal war has ripped apart the lives of millions. We work in countries On route, like Turkey, Egypt, Greece and Serbia – ensuring the children are protected wherever possible. We also work in countries Italy, Sweden and Germany, to ensure that these children understand their rights and have access to care and support when they do arrive at their destination.

For multimedia please download from here: http://storycentral.savethechildren.org.uk/?c=32032&k=7dbeb0b9c7

Support our Child refugee Crisis Appeal at: savethechildren.org.uk