NoBorder Greece on how the Greek coast guards is hindering civil rescue operations in the Aegean, North of Lesvos and support for refugees arriving:
“The coast guard and authorities are making it harder and harder for the volunteers and rescue boats to operate here in the north of Lesvos. For weeks now volunteer rescue boats are not allowed to launch unless they ask 24hrs in advance. They are not being given permission to launch when there is an incident in spite of the fact that they are close by and the coast guard can take 40 minutes. They are only allowed to launch once a day if they are given permission, we are not sure what law they are applying, issuing fines to rescue boats for any infraction and it is not always clear why.
Some of the spotters* over have been asked to leave the spotting point and told they shouldn’t come back without express permission of the coast guard in Lesvos. An NGO emailed them but did not receive response. A few days ago, volunteers were approached by two plain clothes men claiming to be police. The spotters were told to leave the place, when the volunteers ask to see proof of identification one of the men drew his gun and said this is all the identification I need, the volunteers left the spot.
In some other place, volunteers were questioned and asked where they were from, why were they here and what NGO they were with. The situation appears to be escalating and 30 more Frontex officers arrived in the last days.
They clearly are trying to stop us watching what is going on at sea.”
*Spotters are volunteers working on the beaches of Lesvos (and other islands) who observe the coast off Lesvos looking for refugee boats to assist.