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Local lifeguards to assist in refugee crisis

Local lifeguards to assist in refugee crisis

On ANZAC weekend, six members of the Bethells Beach Surf Lifesaving Patrol will head to the Greek Island of Lesvos to assist current operations attempting to decrease the drowning rates for desperate Syrian refugees.

The selected Lifeguard members will travel to Greece on the 22nd of April for three weeks, to volunteer their skills and resources, to rescue refugees travelling by boat along the 4 mile stretch of Mediterranean Sea from Turkey to Lesvos.

Bethells Beach Surf Life Saving Patrol Committee member and one of the six volunteers Dave Comp, says this will be the first time a New Zealand Surf Life Saving club has helped aside from the acceptance of over 750 Syrian refugees last year.

“This is the biggest humanitarian crisis of our time, politics aside, as Lifeguards it is our duty to prevent people from drowning. We realise that what we are doing isn’t going to make a huge impact but what if it was my family, or yours, we can’t just sit here and watch this happen. So many people have already drowned there is no more room at the cemetery in the main city of Mytilene, it’s heart-breaking,” says Comp.

Kiwis are known to punch well above their weight and Bethells Beach Surf Life Saving Patrol see this as nothing different so as a start the Surf Club will donate not only their time and skills but also rescue equipment along with an IRB (inflatable rescue boat), worth over $15K, to safely aid refugee’s across the stretch of water.

The team will also help train the current volunteer units on how to use the donated IRB for continuous support.

The UN Refugee Agency has anticipated that more than three million refugees will attempt the crossing between now and October, with some 2,500 refugees estimated to have drowned or gone missing trying to reach Europe from Turkey.

Current volunteer units, Lifeguard Hellas and the ISLA (International Surf Lifesaving Association) have been stretched on resources, working 24 hour shifts, seven days a week.
The Bethells Beach team, ranging between the ages of 21 to 54, will work alongside the units, providing rescue aid, first aid, and assisting the arriving refugees.

The anticipated cost to make this project happen is between $60,000 to $70,000.

To support this cause please visit https://givealittle.co.nz/cause/project-lifeguard-hellas/donations

ENDS

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