Working with Refugees and Migrants Rescued at Sea
IOM continues to provide Psychosocial Support (PSS), interpretation, food and Non-Food Item (NFI) assistance to refugees and migrants rescued at sea through our partnership with the Turkish Coast Guard (TCG). When compared with the initial two weeks of March, a 200% increase of refugees and migrants in need was reported by the IOM mobile team in Dikili, who provided support to 462 individuals between 26-31 March alone. IOM currently maintains a presence in Çeşme, Küçükkuyu and Dikili, whilst assistance is also provided through the TCG in Kuşadası. In 2018, IOM has supported 3030 migrants and refugees with food and non-food item (NFI) assistance, 2100 with PSS, 31 with recreational activities and 3397 with interpretation assistance. IOM also works to identify refugees and migrants with special needs and refers them to national organization and institutions for support, 135 of whom have been referred since January 2018. Nearly half of the referrals were medical cases, with the remaining referred for legal counselling, family re-unification and some were cases of separated and unaccompanied children.
Alongside humanitarian support, IOM Turkey and IOM Director General William Lacy Swing handed over six state-of-the-art search and rescue vessels to enhance capacity of the Turkish Coast Guard on 24 February. Recent video footage of the rescue of 42 Syrians from a sinking boat in the Aegean Sea underlines the imminent need for increased support to safeguard the lives of the thousands that have attempted the fraught crossing in recent years. The vessels, specifically designed for search and rescue operations, can operate under harsh weather conditions and have the capability to right themselves when capsized and so far 578 migrants at sea have been rescued in them. To accompany the boats, IOM trained 629 TCG staff on topics such as international migration law, counter-migrant smuggling and human trafficking.