Kurdish refugees cry for help after stranded in sea in Greece

Refugees, including women, children and ill persons, have been stranded on the Greek border at sea. Refugees, mostly Kurds, called for help.

Vedat Yeler / DUVAR 

Some 83 refugees, including children, women and ill persons, have been in distress on the Greek border of the Ionian Sea while crossing to Italy.

The refugees said that they had been on the road for 4 days and that they were stranded at sea as a result of a malfunction in their boat's engine yesterday at noon. The refugees, who stated that they have been informing the Greek authorities about their critical situation since yesterday, said that there was no attempt to rescue them and that two boats belonging to the Greek Coastguard were just circling around them.

Greek authorities: We did not find them

When we called the Greek Coastguard for the rescue of the refugees at the location near to the Greek island of Zakynthos, the responsible remained indifferent to the situation and directed us to the Zakynthos Port Authority. The Zakynthos Port Authority, on the other hand, first stated that they did not find the refugees, and then said that we should call the Greek coastguard officials regarding the issue or wait until the morning.

Since yesterday, many people have contacted the Greek Coastguard in regards to this incident of distress at sea and gave information about the location of the stranded boat, the number of people on the boat, the refugees, their contact numbers, and the situation on the boat. In addition, refugees on the boat stated that they called the Greek Coastguard and 112 emergency number, and asked for help.

However, the refugees, who have been stranded for more than 24 hours, are not being rescued by the Greek Coastguard, which continues to respond to the calls by saying that they “have not found such a boat”.

15 children, 30 women, and 2 heart patients

There are 15 children and 30 women in the refugee group of 83 people, who say they want to apply for asylum in Greece. The majority of the group consists of Kurds. Refugees said they had to flee because of the political pressure and persecution they were experiencing in their countries. The refugees said that they were afraid of being sent back to Turkey and Iran, and added that the health condition of the two people with heart disease was critical.

While calling for help in a video that was released by the refugees on the boat, one person says: "We are 83 people on the boat right now. As you can see, we are all seating on top of each other. There are about 30 women among us. There are 15 children among us. Two of them are sick. There are people with heart problems among us. We are waiting for the Greek police to take us. There is no food, no water..."

They are drifting into the Ionian Sea 

The refugees waiting to be rescued spent the night helplessly drifting in the sea with currents and wind. Refugees, who sent their location information again around 09:30 in the morning, noted that there was a Coastguard boat monitoring them from afar. The refugees, whose boat changed its position due to the drift also noted that their phones stopped working and they had difficulty in establishing contacts in order to repeat their calls for help.

'You must do something' 

We were in touch with the stranded refugees and interviewed them on regular basis throughout the last night and this morning. They told us that they have been constantly watched by the Coastguard but not rescued.

During our last interview, the refugees described their current situation with these words: "We are still in the middle of the sea. The police are sailing around, coming and going. The women and children are not well. You must do something. The wind has been taking us away. The waves are rising and it will be bad if we stay till the evening.”