Médecins Sans Frontières and Greenpeace collaborate to save lives in the Aegean Sea

As the refugee crisis in the Mediterranean worsened through 2015 and the number of fatalities at sea mounted, Greenpeace was compelled to do whatever it could to help ease the humanitarian crisis.

Facing Europe's biggest refugee crisis since World War II, we offered to support Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and expand its humanitarian aid operations in Greece – an offer that was quickly accepted. Bringing our maritime experience to the mission, joint operations started off the Lesbos coast in Greece in November 2015.

Greenpeace sent several rigid-hulled inflatable boats (RHIBs) to the island to support MSF's humanitarian and medical activities – including rescuing refugees in distress at sea in coordination with the Greek Coast Guard. We felt that those with the capacity to help save lives were morally obligated to do whatever they could.

After four months of joint operations – in which MSF-Greenpeace crews assisted 18,000 refugees at sea – Greenpeace withdrew from the operation at the end of March 2016. We continue to support calls for safe passage and for Europe to adopt a humane solution to the crisis. MSF continues to provide rescue activities at sea.

Greenpeace works to protect the environment and promote peace and social justice. We had the maritime experience and the capacity to help ease the refugee crisis in the short-term. We withdrew when MSF was positioned to carry out a longer-term operation. Where Europe's leaders failed, we acted in order to save lives.

The latest updates


EU deal with Turkey the latest failure in refugee response

Blog entry by Alexandra Messare | 11 March, 2016

No fence is strong enough to forever hold back the tide of human hope. One way or another, the fence will be brought down, breached or circled and the same is true today across Europe – thousands of refugees will not be denied safe...

Thousands call for #safepassage in Europe

Blog entry by Aaron Gray-Block | 29 February, 2016

As thousands of people gathered across Europe on Saturday to call for refugee rights, a human chain of hands was formed on a stony Lesbos beach next to a banner demanding ‘No more deaths’. Lesbos is on the frontline of Europe’s...

Everyone deserves a Safe Passage

Video | 27 February, 2016 at 17:30

All across Europe, thousands of people rally in support of refugee rights. The MSF-Greenpeace team echoed their call from Lesbos. Come on Europe, provide #‎safepassage now.

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