Strengthening the Operational Capacities of the Turkish Coast Guard in Managing Migration Flows in the Mediterranean Sea Project

Title of the action: Strengthening the operational capacities of the Turkish Coast Guard in Managing Migration Flows in the Mediterranean Sea

Priority sector: Migration management

Implementing partner: International Organization for Migration (IOM)

Beneficiary(ies): Turkish Coast Guard

Duration (months): 18

EU Contribution (EUR): 20,000,000.00 EUR - 100 % of total cost. Contracted under FRIT- IcSP funding.

Main objectives:

The overall objective of the action is to contribute to the ongoing efforts of the Government of Turkey in addressing the migration and refugee crisis through supporting search and rescue operations at sea, in order to save lives and further strengthen the protection of refugees and migrants in Turkey’s waters.

The three specific objectives are:

 

  1. Provide the Turkish Coast Guard (TCG) with advanced technical equipment and related training to effectively conduct search and rescue operations at sea.
  2. Enhance the capacities of the TCG in the field of humanitarian border management to further enable the TCG to respond to migration flows, while safeguarding the human rights of migrants.
  3. Uphold the well-being and prevent burnout of the TCG search and rescue personnel by providing them with professional psychosocial support.

Location: Turkey

Expected results

  1. The TCG has been provided with state-of-the-art technical equipment and related training to successfully conduct search and rescue operations at sea.
  2. The skills and knowledge of the TCG staff in responding to mass migration flows across the sea, with full respect to international and national obligations and the human rights of migrants, have increased.
  3. A mobile team of psychologists has been established and the TCG has received professional staff care on a regular basis to prevent potential burnout.

Target groups: Turkish Coast Guard Command

Main activities

  1. Procurement of six Search and Rescue vessels for the TCG.
  2. Provision of a tailored training program on the use of the supplied vessels for selected TCG staff.
  3. Designing and carrying out one 7-day Training of Trainers for 25 TCG staff on international migration law and training skills, in support of the training capacities on migration management of the TCG Training and Education Command in Antalya.
  4. Six 3-day cascaded trainings of maximum 200 TCG staff under the framework of Humanitarian Border Management.
  5. Design and implementation of seven 3-day trainings for 300 TCG staff on effective communication to support culturally and protection-sensitive communication with migrants and refugees.
  6. Preparation of operational, analytical, data and reporting tools for the Crime Centre of TCG to monitor irregular migration trends.
  7. Conducting weekly/monthly focus groups by an expert psychologist in each location where the TCG personnel is based.
  8. Provision of infidel counselling sessions on a weekly basis by expert psychologists to the TCG personnel deployed in the field.

Rationale for the EU support to the TCG

In 2015, more than one million people travelled under dangerous circumstances to Europe through various transit routes across Africa, Asia or the Middle East, leaving more than 3,600 migrants dead. Out of one million migrants by sea, over 850,000 (i.e. 85% of all migrants by sea) have crossed from Turkey to Greece. In 2015 Turkey became the crucial transit country towards the EU which since then had been mainly from Northern Africa to Italy, Malta and Spain.

The majority of people leaving by boat from Turkey to Europe have been fleeing from war-torn countries. In 2015, 57 per cent of those who arrived in Greece were from Syria, 24 per cent from Afghanistan, 9 per cent from Iraq and 10 per cent from other countries.

Due to a large number of irregular migration attempts via the Aegean Sea, the Black Sea and the Mediterranean, the TCG bears a particular responsibility in responding to migration challenges as their mandate includes search and rescue operations at sea. While in 2012 the number of rescued/apprehended migrants stood at 2,531, more than 91,000 individuals were transported from the sea to the shore by the TCG in 2015.

Although following the implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement of 18 March 2016 the number of irregular crossings from Turkey to the Greek islands has been drastically reduced, the highly politicised deal is related to several factors going well beyond it and therefore might be rather unstable. The challenge of migration management by sea for Turkey (and the Turkish Coast Guard in the frontline) remains: even though the deal is in place, the irregular flow by sea will never be halted completely and in winter time TCG's search and rescue operations with inappropriate vessels are still arduous and saving migrants' lives remains a challenge. 

Although search and rescue operations are part of the TCG's mandate, it has so far not been the primary focus of TCG's work and the institution is not adequately equipped to perform such a high number of rescue operations. During an identification mission conducted to the TCG Field Centre in Bodrum/Mugla in November 2015, EU staff witnessed the high frequency at which the small teams of Coast Guards were called to conduct operations at sea. The equipment available to the TCG is limited in number and primarily designed for maritime border surveillance rather than for conducting search and rescue operations. No search and rescue vessels of any sort are present in the TCG's fleet. This action originates from the needs expressed by the TCG at that time (i.e. November 2015) and the huge challenges they faced in 2015 and in the first months of 2016, i.e. before the implementation of the 18 March Statement.

The Action proposed was endorsed by the relevant EC services and by EU MS in the Political Security Committee in February 2016 and has to be seen as a concrete output of the EU-TR Joint Action Plan adopted on 15 October 2015 by which the EU and Turkey agreed to make support available on both sides to reinforce the Turkish Coast Guard capacities in, inter alia, their patrolling as well as search and rescue operations. This Action, therefore, stems out from this political commitment and the following EU-Turkey Statement of 18 March 2016. The Financing Decision funding this Action was adopted in May 2016 and the Delegation Agreement (DA) with IOM was signed in September 2016. Production of the vessels started before the signature of the DA thanks to the Dutch company DAMEN SHIPYARDS who had committed to produce the boats at their own risk before signing a contract with IOM.

 

Although the fastest and most flexible EU financial instrument was deployed to fund this Action, the production of these state-of-the-art vessels takes 10-12 months per boats. The producer and supplier DAMEN, thanks also to the involvement of the Dutch MFA, committed to produce the boats using its full capacity in their shipyards in Antalya within the shortest delay, which entails simultaneous production of two-three boats at the time. Each search and rescue boat costs approximately 2,9 million EUR. The vessels, DAMEN SEARCH AND RESCUE (SAR) 1906, are self-righting and all weather, i.e. they can be used in all weather conditions, including in rough sea. 

 

Photos and a short description of the vessels (SAR 1906) are provided below.

 

DIMENSIONS

 

Length overall (including fenders) approx.

19.45 m.

Length moulded approx.

18.65 m.

Beam overall (including fenders) approx.

6.54 m.

Depth at side (at half length) approx.

1.90 m.

Draught max.                                                            1.10 m.

 

CAPACITIES

Crew 4

Survivors 120

 

SPECIAL FEATURES

Stability: Self-righting; 2 separated engine rooms

PERFORMANCES:

Speed: 31 knots

DAMEN SAR 1906

SELF-RIGHTING, ALL WEATHER SEARCH AND RESCUE VESSEL

boat

 

boat

Progress of the Action to-date

 

Construction of search and rescue boats: the Construction of six search and rescue boats is going as planned. The first two boats have been completed and will be delivered in the official ceremony to take place in Antalya on 15 June 2017. The remaining four boats are under construction and expected to be delivered by mid-September, mid-November and mid-December.

 

To-date 6 teams (36 out of 72 persons in total) from TCG have completed their training on the use of the vessels in Stoneheaven (Scotland). This kind of training was originally planned to take place in the Netherlands but following the diplomatic spat between the Netherlands and Turkey the company, upon request of the TCG, had to change location from the Netherlands to Scotland. The Technical & Nautical Familiarization training is ongoing for the crew who will use the first two boats.

 

Capacity building and psychosocial support: so far, almost 50% of staff from TCG (i.e. more than 374 out of overall 820 staff, which is the overall target under this project under the training and psychosocial support component) has participated in training sessions as well as psychosocial support. Training sessions included several topics such as international migration law (including specificities of the law of the sea), counter migrant smuggling, human trafficking, protection of victims and legal aid, communication skills. Additional trainings are planned for the month of June, July, August and September.

 

The project started in September 2016 and will come to an end in February 2018.

 

 

TURKISH COAST GUARD COMMAND STATISTICS

 

COMPARATIVE IRREGULAR MIGRATION STATISTICS BETWEEN THE YEARS 2015 AND 2016 IN ALL SEAS AROUND TURKEY

MONTHS

NUMBER OF IRREGULAR MIGRATION INCIDENTS

NUMBER OF IRREGULAR MIGRANTS

NUMBER OF LIFE LOSS IRREGULAR MIGRANTS

NUMBER OF APPREHENDED ORGANIZERS

2015

2016

2015

2016

2015

2016

2015

2016

JANUARY

20

135

688

5.506

-

103

8

16

FEBRUARY

29

182

753

8.747

9

38

4

25

MARCH

47

177

1.820

8.530

6

32

7

12

APRIL

87

36

2.490

1.717

10

-

21

1

MAY

127

28

4.378

1.109

2

-

21

2

JUNE

153

15

5.702

538

7

-

5

2

JULY

341

28

12.586

881

9

-

17

-

AUGUST

426

44

17.925

1.603

15

1

14

12

SEPTEMBER

402

75

13.647

3.425

72

7

18

16

OCTOBER

343

61

13.490

2.437

38

-

25

13

NOVEMBER

230

34

9.235

1.856

40

6

26

6

DECEMBER

225

18

8.897

781

71

5

24

13

TOTAL

2.430

833

91.611

37.130

279

192

190

118

Source: Turkish Coast Guard website

TURKISH COAST GUARD COMMAND STATISTICS

 

COMPARATIVE IRREGULAR MIGRATION STATISTICS BETWEEN THE YEARS 2016-2017 AND 2017 IN ALL SEAS AROUND TURKEY

MONTHS

NUMBER OF IRREGULAR MIGRATION INCIDENTS

NUMBER OF IRREGULAR MIGRANTS

NUMBER OF LIFE LOSS IRREGULAR MIGRANTS

NUMBER OF APPREHENDED ORGANIZERS

2016

2017*

2016

2017*

2016

2017*

2016

2017*

JANUARY

135

17

5.506

756

103

-

16

7

FEBRUARY

182

19

8.747

719

38

1

25

5

MARCH

177

34

8.530

1.501

32

11

12

12

APRIL

36

34

1.717

1.551

-

7

1

11

MAY

28

28

1.109

1.236

-

-

2

7

08thJUNE

-

1

-

2

-

-

-

1

09thJUNE

1

1

53

48

-

-

-

-

JUNE

5

15

157

485

-

-

-

6

TOTAL **

563

147

25.766

6.248

173

19

56

48

 

*Statistical information given in the table may vary since they consist of data related to incidents occurred and turned into search and rescue operations.

** The data contains the statistics up to 9 June 2017.

 

Source: Turkish Coast Guard website