From Alarm Phone: Support for a coordinated humanitarian Search and Rescue (SAR) operation
Sea-Watch, ProActiva/Open Arms, Human Rights at Sea, Cadus and
WatchTheMed Alarm Phone demand an independent investigation of a fatal
distress case that occurred on 19.03.2016 in the Aegean Sea
On the 12th of May 2016, a Joint Statement by Sea-Watch, ProActiva Open
Arms, WatchTheMed Alarm Phone, Human Rights at Sea and CADUS was sent to
the Turkish Interior Ministry and the Turkish Coast Guard Headquarter.
The background for this letter to the Turkish authorities was a fatal
distress case that occurred on 19.03.2016, when two of the twenty-seven
people on board, a young man and an eight-year-old child, fell into the
sea and disappeared, while nearby civil volunteer SAR assets were denied
entry to the Turkish SAR zone.
The core issues – raised in the statement attached below – have been:
Could the deaths of these two persons have been prevented by timely
Why did the Turkish Coast Guard deny civilian SAR organisations access
to the distress location in support of an urgent rescue operation?
On the 28th of May, the Turkish Coast Guard Command sent back a
response, in which they explained their perspective regarding the
mentioned incident. The main question about the denial of access to
civilian SAR organisations was, however, not answered in this letter.
Rather, it was stated that no information was given to the Turkish Coast
Guard about missing persons in the first 1.5 hours of the ongoing rescue
The teams of Sea-Watch and WatchTheMed Alarm Phone both testify that in
their respective direct phone calls with the Turkish Coast Guards, the
fact that two persons had fallen into the water was stressed several
times. From the point of view of all five organisations, who signed the
joint statement, it remains a scandal that access of civilian SAR
organisations to the location of distress was denied and that the
offered support for SAR was refused, even after the Turkish Coast
Guardâ€™s confirmation that two persons had gone missing.
All five organisations demand now an independent investigation with
access to the various log books and documented communications that exist
with regards to the incident. And all organisations will contribute to
this investigation with all of the information available to them.