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


This is Why Europe Must Provide #Safepassage

Video | 12 January, 2016 at 13:45

Dreaming of safety from war and persecution, thousands of refugees continue to risk the dangerous Aegean Sea crossing to Greece. This is why Europe must provide #safepassage.

MSF and Greenpeace Rescue Operations in the Aegean Sea

Video | 11 January, 2016 at 13:00

Combined sea rescue operations continue between Médecins Sans Frontières and Greenpeace off the coast of Greece.

Time to tear down the walls

Blog entry by Anne Jensen | 8 January, 2016 3 comments

It’s early morning, cloudy with a light breeze and we are on standby as a rescue team for any approaching refugee boats that might get into trouble. And then … we get the call! A boat has been spotted in a position east of ours.

Peace and #safepassage for refugees in 2016

Blog entry by Aaron Gray-Block | 1 January, 2016 11 comments

A short distance outside the village of Molyvos on the Greek Island of Lesbos there is a rubbish dump of life jackets, discarded now but forever witness to the hope and suffering of those who fled war, poverty and oppression this year.

Peace Sign in Lesbos

Video | 1 January, 2016 at 13:32

A Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors without Borders (MSF)-Greenpeace team on the Greek island of Lesbos were joined by groups such as Sea-Watch, the Dutch Refugee Boat Foundation and local communities, to create a peace sign formed from over 3,000...

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