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.