IFRC appalled by migrant deaths
as hypothermia claims three lives in Greece


A five-year-old child and two women have died from hypothermia in Lesvos after a gruelling journey across the Aegean Sea.

Head of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) in Greece, Karen Bjornestad, said: “Hundreds of people arrived on Wednesday soaking wet, bitterly cold and shaking after braving rough seas and freezing weather on route from Turkey.

“Medics fought to treat three of them for severe hypothermia, including a five-year-old child, but they died on arrival in Greece.”

More than 18 boats, each carrying up to 45 migrants, washed up on the island’s beaches on Wednesday.  The Hellenic Red Cross rescue and first aid teams were on hand to help get people to safety and treat other hypothermia cases, managing to save another woman’s life and stabilize her.

The IFRC condemned the deaths and urged politicians to prioritize establishing safe and legal routes to asylum for people fleeing violence and persecution.

Bjornestad said: “These needless deaths are shameful – we must establish safer ways for people to escape conflict, persecution and poverty. Death should not be the result of a basic human desire to live in safety and find a future.”

The Hellenic Red Cross has provided support to at least 188,000 people since 2015 across Kos, Samos, Chios and Lesvos through the distribution of emergency supplies, first aid activities and psychosocial support for people suffering from trauma.

Media enquiries

Irish Red Cross Communications Executive Rebecca Dunne on (+353) 085 132 9981 | rdunne@redcross.ie | 01 642 4628