Volunteers rescue migrants along Greek coastlines

Publicado: 4 noviembre 2015 10:32 CET

By Charlotte Hyest, IFRC

Every day, boats carrying vulnerable migrants arrive at the shores of the Greek islands.

On Lesvos, the Hellenic Red Cross has deployed a rescue team of its Athens-based volunteers - firefighters, administrative employees and students - who put their lives on hold for ten days to take part in the humanitarian response to the migration crisis. All the volunteers share the same feeling, that they are more useful here than anywhere else.

“I took vacation to be able to come here. I felt very sorry for these people. So I decided to help with the rescue team of the Hellenic Red Cross,” says Nicky, one of the volunteers.

During the all-day rescue, the team monitors the coastline looking for the arrivals of new boats. They do not have to look for long as an average of 70 boats arrive each day on the shores of Lesvos.

Reaching the shore of safety

This morning at 9:30 a boat arrives at the foot of a cliff on Lesvos. The Hellenic Red Cross volunteers help 40 people out of the boat. They are wet and exhausted, some carry children and babies, others have heavy bags.

Thanks to a human chain, the rescue team helps them climb the cliffs. At the top – realizing that they have succeeded in crossing the sea – nervous emotions are released. One man bursts out crying in the arms of his wife. A teenager stares silently at the 13 kilometres of sea they have crossed from Turkey.

A memorable effort

The rescue team informs the migrants of the next steps they need to take while providing them with first aid. A six-year-old girl injured her leg while getting out of the boat. While she is treated, her grandmother hugs one of the volunteers. She is relieved. With joyful eyes she repeatedly expresses her gratitude: “Thank you for your help, to be here, to help us. Thank you for everything. We will never forget it.”

Abs Alrahman, another migrant who received first aid, also expresses his appreciation: “Really thank you. You help us without financial incentive, just with humanity. I am lucky to be in this boat and meet you. Thank you.”

A few minutes later the rescue team notices another boat a few kilometres further off shore, and gets ready to respond.