Lack of coordination in SAR (Search and Rescue) areas
There is a lack of coordination between EU MS and third (neighbouring) countries as well as technical/legal issues to be resolved (i.e. the crossing of jurisdictional lines while in a SAR operation). The situation is resolved when volunteer organisations are practising Search and Rescue operations.
October 2020 Workshop Findings
After considering two interconnected gaps vis-à-vis SaR, namely the fact that we have at our disposal insufficient means, while at the same time there is a perceived lack of coordination for effective SaR operations, the webinar findings were the following: SaR operations are mostly assumed by the Coast Guard, while police and various law enforcement authorities assist the Coast Guard in their efforts. Frontex supports SAR operations with surveillance capabilities while those operations are coordinated by the national Maritime Rescue Coordination Centres (MRCC). Since private entities (such as NGOs) intervene in SaR operations with vessels, the European Commission has formed recommendations for the cooperation between them and Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs). Implementing these recommendations is crucial for the safety of everyone involved.
Following a webinar participant’s question on whether the existence of vessels for SaR offers an additional incentive for migrants to cross over to Europe, knowing that they will be rescued should anything happen, the general consensus was that although this would seem to be the case, it is not an important factor by itself. Since this is a complex issue, we must take into consideration the fact that organized crime networks, that partake in migrant smuggling, would try their best to avoid routes where they would come across SaR vessels. So, although the existence of vessels provides both a pull and a push factor vis-à-vis illegal immigration, in most cases where migrant boats see SaR vessels in the Aegean Sea, they quickly flee without approaching.