Return to the Med: sea rescuers MOAS in collaboration with Sea-Eye

Aid organisations Sea-Eye and MOAS start close collaboration aboard the ship Sea-Eye 4 to carry out search and rescue missions in the central Mediterranean Sea

The aid organisations Sea-Eye and MOAS have agreed to a close collaboration aboard the ship Sea-Eye 4 with the aim of carrying out search and rescue missions in the central Mediterranean Sea.

The Sea-Eye 4 is a 48-year-old offshore supply vessel, acquired with significant support of the United4Rescue alliance. It is now being converted into a rescue ship with February 2021 as the start of its mission.

Both organisations will conduct joint operations to save more lives together and raise awareness for migrants at sea who are dying when European countries refuse to charter rescue missions.

“We firmly believe that nobody deserves to die at sea in search of safety, that’s why we founded MOAS in 2013: to save lives. We are very happy about this partnership with Sea-Eye, to share our knowledge and expertise on SAR operations,” MOAS director Regina Catrambone said.

“Between 2014 and 2017, with our missions in the Mediterranean and Aegean Sea, MOAS rescued more than 40,000 people. Now, together with our partners, we want to rescue as many people at risk as possible. Civil society strongly believes that the implementation of #SafeAndLegalRoutes of migration is important to avoid further deaths at sea,” Catrambone said.
“We are proud to bring the MOAS sea rescuers back into action on our ship. This is a milestone for Sea-Eye. Our operational cooperation has one main goal: to save more lives together. Between 2016 and 2017, the Sea-Eye and MOAS crews had met during a rescue mission. Now we are working jointly aboard the SEA-EYE 4,” said Gorden Isler, Chairman of Sea-Eye e. V.

MOAS was the first aid organization to actively conduct rescue operations in the central Mediterranean with the objective of saving people from drowning in 2014. The joint missions with the Sea-Eye 4 are planned to start in February 2021. MOAS will support Sea-Eye with professional staff, joint search and rescue training, strategic expertise and an international donation campaign.

The COVID-19 pandemic worsened the situation for people fleeing and seeking protection, as many countries closed their borders. Malta, Italy, Greece and Spain continue to be left alone by other EU member states when it comes to accommodating refugees. Germany was slow to meet its commitments to accept refugees in 2020.

“The German minister of transport and the German minister of the interior even tried to prevent German civil sea rescue ships from continuing operations. State level sea rescue efforts are still not in sight. Of all the people who drowned this year in the Mediterranean Sea, more than 700 people drowned in the Central part of the Mediterranean alone,” Isler said.

Catrambone said MOAS was resuming SAR operations with the intent of saving as many lives as possible of those seeking protection aboard unseaworthy boats. “Although we cannot put an end to the instability and ongoing conflicts which force people to leave their countries, we do have a chance to reduce the number of deaths at sea by providing assistance to those who, in their desperation, continue to attempt the Mediterranean crossing,” Catrambone said.

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