MOAS and Italian Red Cross Strengthen Ties

MOAS & Italian Red Cross Launch Joint Search & Rescue Operation from Migrant Offshore Aid Station on Vimeo.

Published Aug 7, 2016 7:41 PM by The Maritime Executive

As the humanitarian migration crisis continues to intensify, the Italian Red Cross (CRI) and the Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) have agreed to further strengthen their joint mission to save lives on the world’s most dangerous migration route, the Mediterranean Sea.

With the support of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Society (IFRC), CRI will be enhancing their contribution to the MOAS 2016 Mediterranean mission by partnering with MOAS on board both its search and rescue vessels – Phoenix and Responder.

In addition to the already existing team of medics on board the Phoenix, who for the past two months have been providing post-rescue care to those assisted at sea, a second team of nurses and doctors from the Italian Red Cross will join the MOAS crew aboard the Responder, where they will provide first aid, medical care, food, dry clothes, blankets and toiletries to the thousands of people being saved.

“Men, women and children are drowning every day as they attempt to reach Europe in search of a safer future,” said Italian Red Cross President Francesco Rocca. “While our joint rescue service will ensure the safety of more lives, we are fully aware that this is not a solution to the crisis. Governments, said Rocca, have a duty to work towards addressing the root causes that are forcing people to leave their homes, and safe and legal avenues for migration must be prioritized.

Over 10,500 people have been rescued and assisted by the crews aboard Phoenix and Responder in the two short months since MOAS launched its 2016 Mediterranean mission on June 6.

“MOAS is excited about this new chapter in our ongoing journey; from being the first NGO to undertake maritime search and rescue provision in the Mediterranean to working with an organization like the Italian Red Cross, which is part of a movement with global reach. We have come a long way in just two years,” said the Managing Director of MOAS Peter Sweetnam.

Over 3,100 people have already lost their life in the Mediterranean this year. Despite the number of arrivals by sea remaining almost equal to 2015, the estimated death toll as of July 2016 already exceeds that of total for 2015.

Italy is currently the primary entry point for migrants heading to Europe with more than 94,000 arrivals since the start of the year. The majority of deaths have occurred on the long and deadly Central Mediterranean route from Libya to Italy which is where the Red Cross and MOAS search and rescue service will operate.