Donations: Greek Search and Rescue Services Boosted
A new lifeboat station has been opened on the Greek island of Chios to help support the rescue of migrants in the Aegean – with the co-operation of International Maritime Rescue Federation (IMRF) members.
The Lifeboat station was made possible through a partnership between Koninklijke Nederlandse Redding Maatschappij (KNRM), the maritime search and rescue service from the Netherlands, and the Hellenic Rescue Team (HRT), and with the support of the Maria Tsakos Foundation along with community leaders and local volunteers.
At an event to celebrate the opening of the center – which was completed in only three months – two lifeboat vessels donated by the KNRM, Athena and Arina to be deployed on the surrounding waters, were also christened.
The opening of the Lifeboat Station on Chios is a milestone for the project. Through the donation of rescue boats and equipment, plus three months of intensive training, the KNRM have managed to bring the station to a standard that will provide Chios with a 24/7 service on the water within 30 minutes.
Speaking at the event, IMRF CEO Bruce Reid said: “What we see here is what happens when there is a willingness within a community to stop the unnecessary loss of life and provides us with a model of cooperation, collaboration and action locally, nationally and internationally. Across borders, across diverse organizations, government and non-government, communities working together to save lives…. action not words.”
He explained that IMRF exists to help prevent loss of life in the world’s waters, so when the member organization, the Hellenic Rescue Team, came to last year’s World Maritime Rescue Congress and tabled a request for help, their call was answered by IMRF members.
“They explained the pressures on the maritime rescue services and the coastal communities in Greece trying to cope with the thousands of people risking their lives to cross the waters of the Aegean.” He said.
The HRT highlighted the risk of many lives being lost if there was no action to develop rescue services. They also pointed out that volunteers were being pushed to the limit to cope and asked if the international maritime community could help.
KNRM Director Jos Stierhout said: “A tragedy is the cause of the formation of new rescue stations. For us, rescue at sea is not a political debate. It is not optional. Rescuing people is a duty.”