Past Missions – Aegean Sea
In early 2015, the eastern Mediterranean route saw a large increase in the flow of migrants as hope faded in the refugee camps of Turkey and other regions. In addition to following overland routes, people from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia continued throughout that year to risk the short sea crossing from Turkey to Greece’s easternmost islands to reach Europe.
In late 2015 as the winter months descended, the death rate continued to climb. In response, MOAS operated a new search-and-rescue mother ship with two high-speed rescue craft named in the memory of Aylan and Galip Kurdi, Syrian children who perished in September 2015 off the coast of Turkey in an attempt to find a better life.
Even though the crossing was relatively short – 10 to 14 nautical miles – it remained perilous as people continued to set out to sea in dinghies despite worsening weather and decreasing water temperatures. The route was also made more perilous due to the scattered Greek islands, which are unlit and prime to cause shipwrecks.
Following the implementation of the European Union-Turkey Agreement in March 2016, arrivals in Greece from across the Aegean Sea have fallen by 98%. As the weather improved and the Central Mediterranean route started to pick up once again, MOAS relocated its operations there to focus our efforts where they are needed most.