In 2015, over 800.000 people, most of them Syrian refugees, chose to traverse the dangerous sea crossing from Turkey in the hope of reaching Greece alive. Hundreds however lost their lives in the Aegean during the trip.

In response to this crisis, for the first time ever, MSF began search and rescue missions for those who were at danger in the Mediterranean and the Aegean Seas.

MSF provides lifejackets to people during their rescue, before they are transferred to the rescue ship. The life-jacket has self-righting capacity and helps those wearing it keep their heads supported above the water.

Since the beginning of May, MSF has assisted 23.000 people in the Mediterranean Sea and 10.500 in the Aegean Sea to safety


Story from the field

Erna Rijnierse, MSF doctor on rescue ship

“On the very first rescue we carried out, the water in the migrants’ boat was already up to their ankles when we arrived. If it had been just a few hours later, the boat would have sunk and everyone would have drowned. That’s the big difference between this mission and my previous work with MSF: here you know that if you don’t save those in need right now, they will surely die.”