On 9th September 2015, a Syrian woman contacts by whatsapp the shift team of Watch the Med Alarmphone, an independant hotline for boat people in distress. She is on a boat close to Lesbos. The engine is broken. The whatsapp conversation published here gives impressive insights into Alarmphone's valuable work and shows clearly the reprehensibility of the European border policies which bring refugees in such dangerous and all too often deadly situations.
SOS calls via social media and messaging apps have become crucial instruments for refugees on the move, especially in order to share GPS positions which allow for the localisation of boats in distress. These text or voice messages can also have another strong meaning: they are the connection to the lives that were lived before the migration journey and to the future that awaits. They are evidence that one is not alone.
The following WhatsApp conversation was held by a Syrian woman with a shift team of Whatch the Med Alarmphone, an independent hotline for boat people in distress. It began on 9th September 2015 when the Alarmphone received a GPS-position. The records are a bit shortend, but what you can read below are the original exchanges. The woman agreed to have this conversation printed. Her journey ended in Beberbek a small village in Northern Hesse/Germany. The two women connected through this chat never met each other face to face, they still hope to be able to do that soon.
>> GPS-position 1
16:42: Please help us
16:42: We have childtrn
16:43: Help us
16:43: We deit
16:43: Heryup 😭😭😭
16:44: Okay, my friend.
16:45: is your engine still working?
16:45: Can you move?
16:46: How many people on board?
16:46: How many are children?
16:48: Have you called 112 for help?
16:48: We will dei 😭
16:49 Please come
16:49: You are still on the turkish side. It can be that the turkish coastguard will come to rescue.
16:49: We are only alarm phone we cannot come and rescue.
16:49: We wont you
16:51: Pleaseeeee 😭😭😭
16:51: Please call 112.
16:51: We wont go to yunan [Greece]
16:52: Can you go forward?
16:52: Wr cant swiming
16:53: What happened with the engine?
16:53: Can you restart it?
16:53: It is stoopet
16:54: Children cray 😭😭
16:54: Should I call the turkish coastguard?
16:55: Noo please
16:55: We wont go to greek 😭
16:55: Okay, you have 3 options:
16:56: Plese help us
16:56: 1. Restart the engine and go forward.
16:57: 2. Call 112 and get rescued, but it can be the turkish coastguard who comes, because you are too close to turkey.
16:57: Is it stoipet
16:58: 3. We call Greek coastguard. But most probably they will just send the turkish coastguard.
16:58: Plese help us
16:58: We have no boat,
16:58: We can only call the coastguard.
16:59: No please help] us
16:59: The children are crey 😭
17:03: We are from syria
17:03: We wont go to greek
17:04: Are you moving?
17:04: No no 😭
17:10: Now we moved
17:10: Wr come to greek
17:10: The engine works again?
17:11: I wish you will arrive safe. Inshallah.
17:13: Please tell me when you arrive, okay?
17:13: Perhaps engine stoopet again
17:15: No, engine needs only to work for 20 minutes half hour that's enough...
17:15: Thank you
17:16: No problem, I will be with you until you are there. ..
17:18: Still running?
17:32 Ingine stoopet
>> GPS Position 2
17:34: I will call the Greek coastguard now.
17:35 Hery up please
17:40: The Greek coastguard are telling they can see you.
17:40: Can you see a boat of the Greek coastguard?
17:54: Could you restart the engine?
18:53: Are you rescued now?
20:08: yes we arrived
20:09: Are you okay? All of you?
20:13: yes .. thank you dear
20:14: Very very good!
20:18: There you can find useful information for Greece.
20:19: And here is another one for the way:
15:13: We are in mitilini
15:14: In very miserable place
The camp Kara Tepe in Lesbos.
15:35: Yes. I know that place.
15:35: When did you arrive at kara tepe?
15:36: from 4 days
15:37: No one take our names
15:38: No one help us
15:38: But you got a number?
15:38: Nothing at all
15:38: We just wait
15:40: In the beginning, 4 days ago. Have you not been at the port to get a number?
15:41: We went to the port
15:43: Thousands of people in the port
15:44: And every day the police came
15:44: And beat the people s
15:46: All media know what happened here
15:46: Yes, I know as well. I have been there 2 weeks ago.
15:46: And every day another peoples arrived
15:47: Yes, it is really hard.
15:47: But it will not be for long.
15:48: You have to go to get a number of registration
15:49: I will talk in one hour to a friend who is there to understand if the system changed.
15:50: No electric
15:50: No food
15:50: Are they not giving registration number at the port.
15:50: They gave a few person
15:51: Yes. Go and get it.
15:51: You have to be strong and get it. After a few days you will be out of Greece.
15:51: What is your sickness?
15:52: I feel apain in my leg
15:52: I cant walking
15:53: You check for the doctors?
15:53: Here .. they give me medicine
15:54: That's good.
15:54: Are you with family?
15:57: Yes .. and all people here tierd .. we haven't enough mony to buy foods .. to charge our phones
15:58: Yes, I can imagine, I have seen it.
15:58: Your children are how old?
15:59: 12 years
15:59: We cant wait here long time
16:00: Boy or girl?
16:52: I paid 2€ to charge my phone . for speaking to you .. I hope you to interest our problem
17:13: This is a photo of woman .. The police beat her
17:19: The situation is getting worse
17:20: The police used violence
17:23: I spoke with friends in mitilini.
17:23: Today the police brought a container to kara tepe.
17:24: This container will be the new place for registration soon.
17:24: They are waiting for the machines and then they will start to register directly in kara tepe.
17:25: Maybe you can tell that also to other people.
17:25: Many ask the same question.
17:26: I hope they will start tomorrow to register people in kara tepe.
21:42: We hope also .. thank you dear
21:43: Good luck and tell it also to other friends, okay?
21:45: okay .. thank you .. we hope to leave this place immediately
08:54: The people burned the office
08:54: They are angry
09:36: what we must to do know
09:37: Most important not to get crazy.
09:38: I will try to get information where they will do the registration
09:39: Try to stay calm and I will contact you as soon as I find something.
15:29: Okay, listen
15:29: There will be 4 ships today
15:30: Those who have passports might get a space even if they did not finish the registration
15:31: It is important not to tell that to everyone to avoid the next riot!
15:31: Maybe you keep it secret,
15:31: But you check out if it is possible
15:31: You have passports?
15:32: So when I must be ?
15:33: noone knows
15:33: Yes I have
15:33: So I would say you should go and check it
15:33: But don't tell anyone, before you know it really works
15:34: Ok dear
15:36: And good luck
15:36: And please let me know if it is possible
15:36: Thank you very much
15:56: Ok .. I am glad to know you
15:56: Even the situation is bad
15:57: Yes, nice to meet you too
18:15: They came to here .. and they give the families numbers now
19:03: I am waiting
19:03: There are thousands
19:04: Yes, it is really crazy
19:04: I hope you will be soon free from this
19:04: I hope too
19:05: Take care my dear
19:05: It will soon be over
19:05: Thanks my friend
20:56: In kara tepe they will register for the whole night slowly.
20:57: There will be 4 big ferries for many thousands
20:57: So stay in kara tepe and see how it goes.
20:58: we take a number and we wait the buses
21:00: Great! Have a good journey my dear!
21:01: Thank you very much
17:27: Finally we take papers , after 17 hours of waiting .
17:28: Can you imagine a person sleep while he is walking
17:29: We were so
17:32: Yes. I think I can imagine, I saw it too many times now...
17:32: The only good thing is, that you are a big step forward now!
11:23: Good morning dear
11:28: at the first , I want to thank you for your wondrerful Psychological aid when I was in greec .
11:30: Secondly, I am in Vienna and I will travel to Hamburg today .. I will arrive at 10 pm ..
09:20: Good morning, my dear. I am wondering where you are and hope you arrived safely!
11:57: I am good
11:58: But along story happened
11:59 In 19 septembre I take the train to Hamburg .. but the police catch us
12:00: Where are you now?
12:00: I will send my location
12:01: It called beberbeck
12:11: Good that you are now in germany.
18:03: I will tell you a summary of what happened until now ..
18:05: In 19 / 9 the police catch us .. they take our pass boards and mony .. and our fingerprints
18:07: Then they send us to the camp in deggendorf in 21 / 9
18:12: But they tell us that no places .. so they give us train tickets and ask us to go to the giessen
18:13: And sent us to here
18:17: There are many problems here
18:18: Yes, I can imagine.
18:18: Firstly .. no network coverage
18:18: I must walk for more 1 km
18:18: oh. That is really a problem!
18:19: Secondly .. the nearest village is far 8 km
18:20: And their isn't transport
18:21: The only good thing: also this will not last forever! 😀
18:22: Really ???
18:24: I know that dear .. but the people told me that they were here for mor than 2 month
18:25: Yes, in the moment everything is more slow...
18:25: This place is suitable for horses .. cows .. not for human beings
18:26: 😀😀😀 at least you don't loose your humour.
18:26: Without joking:
18:27: The first time is in the moment very difficult for everyone.
18:27: The only good thing is really that it will slowly slowly get better.
18:29: How long time I have to spend here?
18:29: At maximum
18:30: To be honest : I don't know.
18:35: These animals what I see
18:36: It is very important at least one time per day to laugh, you will not stand it otherwise...
18:37: Yes .. sure
18:38 Thank you dear .. l must come back before the wild animals eat me
18:40: Good bye my dear!
10:31: good morning dear
10:32: I begin to feel depressed in this place
10:35: And I don't know to whom I can to talk
10:36: Yes, I can imagine that it is very difficult.
10:36: I know that you are busy
10:37: I feel that I am in prison
10:37: When first so long time total chaos around you and high level of stress and then shortly after total standstill that is making everybody depressed.
10:38: The most problem here that their in no Internet
10:38: I can't read book
10:38: Or watch film
10:38: Yes, that is really shit!
10:39: Or lesson to music
10:39: Do you have any book for learning language?
10:41: My friend here found a good book for arabic german. If you send me your post adress, I could send one to you.
11:21: It was just a small idea, I know it does not solve the problem.
11:21: But maybe it is useful to think how to survive hour by hour until it is over and you will feel more free again.
11:52: I just wanted to talk to someone
11:52: I know that There is no solution
11:52: Thank you dear
11:53: You are always welcome!
This text was first published in the brochure Moving On: One Year Alarmphone. The introduction is slightly edited by the editorial board of Papierlose Zeitung.