The Greek Coast Guard official wasn’t buying it when Mahmoud Alkuder, a Syrian refugee from Aleppo, called him from a Jordanian cell phone number in October 2015 asking to be rescued from the Mediterranean, about a mile from the Greek coast.
So the official hung up. Alkhuder — who fled from Syria to Jordan in 2011 and was now trying to reach Greece from Turkey, where he’d been visiting his family — called back with the same plea.
“I’m stranded with other refugees on a small boat coming from Turkey,” he said. “We need help.”
“If you’re really stranded with other people,” the coast guard asked, “why is there no noise behind you? No chaos?”
Mahmoud explained that he had asked the men, women and children crammed into the dinghy — meant to carry “a maximum of maybe thirty people,” but holding about 60 — to keep their voices down while he called for help.
He could send a photo to the officer via WhatsApp to prove it, if he wanted.