More Migrant Lives to be saved through a € 20 million EU project in support of the Turkish Coast Guard

More Migrant Lives to be saved through a € 20 million EU project in support of the Turkish Coast Guard

Turkey – On 15 June, the Turkish Coast Guard (TUR CG) received two search and rescue vessels.  The vessels are part of a €20 million agreement between the European Union and the UN Migration Agency (IOM).

The Turkish government responded to the increased irregular migration by rescuing nearly 135,000 migrants and refugees as they tried to make their way to Greece. At land and at sea, Turkish law enforcement authorities have taken effective measures. Tremendous efforts of the Turkish Coast Guard play an important role in this success. 

The vessels, specifically designed for search and rescue operations, will help to maintain coverage and frequency of coast guard patrols. These new vessels are fast and can operate under harsh weather conditions. The boats have the capability to right themselves when capsized and a hydraulic platform will make it easier for the TUR CG to rescue people from the water.

“The vessels provided today to the Turkish Coast Guard are the first instalment of six highly sophisticated search and rescue boats funded by the European Union that IOM will deliver by the end of 2017, “ said Lado Gvilava, IOM Turkey Chief of Mission.

“While the Turkish Coast Guard should be applauded for its efforts to rescue migrants and refugees, we must recognize that the underlying cause of what is driving people to make this risky journey continue to exist.  The international community must come together to root out the drivers of irregular migration. In this context, it is conflicts,” Gvilava continued.

In addition to the six search and rescue vessels, the agreement with the IOM, will support TUR CG staff carrying out search and rescue operations and dealing with tragic events.

The Head of EU Delegation Turkey, Ambassador Christian Berger said "The strenuous efforts by the Turkish Coast Guards have been crucial in saving human lives in the Aegean Sea and Mediterranean.  The EU is proud to be able to contribute to these efforts of the Turkish Coast Guards through these first two state-of-the-art search and rescue vessels delivered today. Here, today, this project is a good example among many of what the EU and Turkey can achieve when we work together, shows that we are stronger when we are together. "Ambassador Berger added.

Commander of the Coast Guard Command, Rear Admiral Bülent Olcay said: "As the vessels of the Coast Guard Command have by far exceeded their annual average navigation time in the fight against irregular migration, their breakdown ratio and the frequency of planned maintenance intervals have increased, therefore the machine lifespans have begun to expire rapidly. The most evident example of such invisible costs incurred in the process of stemming irregular migration are the 9 Coast Guard vessels whose lifespans have expired early due to overuse. These 9 vessels had to be decommissioned in the end of 2016, 2-3 years earlier than expected. In brief, the new vessels supplied in the scope of EU funded projects provide 'a partial compensation of losses' rather than 'a capacity increase'."

SHORT BACKGROUND ON THE 20 M EURO PROJECT WITH THE TURKISH COAST GUARD

With this 20-million-EUR project, the European Union further strengthens its co-operation with the Turkish Coast Guard in the area of migration management. The project is being implemented by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and foresees the production and supply of six search and rescue vessels to the Turkish Coast Guard (TUR CG). The project also includes training on several topics such as international migration law, sensitive interview techniques, protection and assistance to vulnerable migrants, counter-migrant smuggling, and human trafficking. Furthermore, the project also offers support to TUR CG frontline officers to alleviate the psychological impact they face in their daily search and rescue operations at sea. The first two vessels were delivered to the Turkish Coast Guard in Antalya on 15 June 2017. The four remaining boats are expected to be delivered to the Turkish Coast Guard by the end of this year.