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Saving lives with the Yellow Boats

A picture of a dead boy was a wake-up call for the world. Three-year old Alan, laying face down in the sand on a beach in Turkey made us realize the magnitude of the refugee disaster in September 2015. Around Europe private individuals and companies asked the same question: what can we do to help the refugees that are fleeing and risking their lives on dangerous routes? So did Schibsted Sweden. The answer became a collaboration with the Swedish Sea Rescue Society. During the effort almost 2 000 lives were saved.

Thousands of people have lost their lives while seeking a better future in Europe. Many of them have drowned in the Mediterranean when fleeing from war, terror and oppression – families and children who never reached the shore.  The ”Yellow Boats” was an initiative that saved lives, assisting the Greek Coast Guard outside the Island of Samos.

When contacting the Swedish Sea Rescue Society (Sjöräddningssällskapet) the message from Schibsted was clear:
“Never mind the problems and difficulties. We’ll deal with those later. We reach the Swedish people through our media houses. You can save lives. We’re just wondering: can we save lives in the Mediterranean together?”
Less than a month later, two Victoria-class lifeboats, sponsored by Schibsted, had been loaded onto large trucks and driven through Europe to the port of Piraeus in Greece.

On 28 October, the Yellow Boats conducted their first life-saving mission. 46 people were rescued from a capsized boat and lifted from the water or rescued from dangerous rocks.
All in all, almost 2 000 lives have been saved.

For the first time ever, Swedish daily newspapers, Aftonbladet and Svenska Dagbladet, worked together on a project. Teams from the papers covered the operations, telling emotional and revealing stories from rescue actions. A special print edition was also been produced. And 108 volunteers from the Swedish Sea Rescue Society conducted operations for six months.

Through Schibsted Sweden’s digital channels private individuals was able to donate money to the project and in the start Schibsted employees could donate a percentage of their salary to the Yellow Boats. Donations from private individuals reached about SEK 5 million, and from companies SEK 1.6 million.

With new agreements on how to handle the refugee crises, fewer people are now reaching for the Greek coast and the need for rescue actions is decreasing. But the Yellow Boats campaign will go on – the goal  is now to establish a permanent rescue organisation at Samos and to help educating the Helenic Rescue Team.