Saving lives in the Mediterranean Sea: Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS)

More than 20,000 men, women, and children are estimated to have lost their lives in the past two decades, while trying to cross the Mediterranean in search of a better life.  So far in 2015, 1,826 migrants are thought to have died while crossing the Mediterranean Sea. Last year, at least 3,419 people died trying to reach Europe by boat. However, the statistics are unreliable as many of those who made the attempt have vanished, according to new research released recently by VU University Amsterdam.

This is where MOAS comes in. After 400 migrants drowned near the Italian island of Lampedusa in 2013, an Italian/American couple living in Malta, Christopher and Regina Catrambone, founded MOAS.  They hope that the humanitarian initiative will inspire others globally, and help dispel what Pope Francis calls the “globalization of indifference.”

MOAS consists of international humanitarians, security professionals, medical staff, and experienced maritime officers who have come together to help prevent further catastrophes at sea. They are passionate about the plight of those seeking a better life, free of violence, despite the dangers they face.

In 2014 MOAS rescued 3,000 people in just 60 days. In May of this year, when the M.Y. Phoenix returned after three weeks at sea and six separate rescues, almost 1,500 people, among them babies, unaccompanied children, pregnant women and young men – mostly from Eritrea, Syria and Sub-Saharan, were rescued. MOAS works in partnership with Médecins Sans Frontières  (Doctors without Borders), a humanitarian organization that has provided post-rescue medical assistance onboard the ship,

In early June, MOAS was involved in the rescue of more than 2,000 people from five separate migrant boats with the assistance of navy vessels from Italy, Germany and Ireland.

“This was the single largest back-to-back operation in which M.Y. Phoenix was involved. Within minutes of locating one overcrowded vessel, we spotted another and then another. This kept happening until we found ourselves involved in the rescue of five boats carrying more than 2,000 migrants between them,” said Ret’d Lt Col. Ian Ruggier who was coordinating efforts on board M.Y. Phoenix.

For more information on this organization, which is doing its share to making this world a better one that works for all and where no one is abandoned, please visit http://www.moas.eu/who-we-are/

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