IOM Together with the European Union Partner to Support the Turkish Coast Guard in Saving More Lives at Sea
Antalya, Turkey – A small group of European Union representatives, Turkish Coast Guard commanders, and representatives from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) gathered for a successful handover of two new search and rescue vessels at the DAMEN Shipyard.
The two vessels are the first of nine boats to be given to the TCG as part of the second phase of an EU-funded project implemented by IOM with the aim to strengthen the capacity of the TCG’s search and rescue operations. The project’s first phase included the handover of six vessels. The project first started in 2016 and has also provided training for over 1,000 TCG staff on topics ranging from the provision of psychosocial support to migrants to international humanitarian law.
Responding to massive humanitarian needs during the peak of the Mediterranean Crisis in 2015 and 2016, the EU and IOM came together to support the TCG in recognition that more support was needed to help save lives in the Aegean Sea as the number of migrant deaths surged.
In the first three months of this year alone, more than 9,000 people were rescued by the TCG, nearly three times as many as the same period last year.
“These statistics show that people will still endanger themselves and their families in order to try their chances at a better life -- whether there is a pandemic or not,” said Lado Gvilava, IOM’s Chief of Mission in Turkey. “Given this reality, we must do all we can to be prepared to help.”
The search and rescue vessels are being built by the Damen Group, a Dutch shipbuilding company. The vessels have superior capabilities with regard to speed, range, and efficiency. They can operate in all weather conditions and accommodate up to 120 rescued people on board. They can reach a maximum speed of 33 knots and right themselves if capsized.
During the handover ceremony, the Head of the EU Delegation to Turkey, Ambassador Christian Berger said, “The current project foresees the provision of nine additional search and rescue boats as well as additional capacity building and psycho-social support for the staff of the Turkish Coast Guard. This increased support will allow the Turkish Coast Guard to carry out more rescue operations, with boats adapted to poor weather conditions minimizing the risk of further endangering the safety of migrants and refugees. Despite a variety of challenges, including the outbreak of COVID in 2020, the strong operational relationship built over time among the EU, IOM, TCG, and DAMEN (the Dutch vessels manufacturer) will make sure that the boats will be an important addition to the TCG’s search and rescue capabilities”.
The European Union has been a long-time partner of IOM in Turkey, supporting the implementation of a range of migration management projects that also include counter-migrant smuggling to migrant protection and assistance.
For more information please contact: Lanna Walsh, IOM Turkey, Email: email@example.com