Migrant rescuers welcome Angelina Jolie’s statement on Med crisis

Regina Catrambone: "People are still drowning, a stark reminder that the rescue of those escaping despair should be a shared endeavour."

Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS), the refugee rescue mission financed by the Catrambone philantropists, praised the UNHCR and Special Envoy Angelina Jolie for helping raise awareness about the ongoing migration crisis in the Mediterranean Sea.

Jolie yesterday visited the facilities of the Armed Forces of Malta together with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres.

MOAS co-founder Regina Catrambone said that the men and women saved by the private NGO were not economic migrants, but people fleeing wars in the Middle East.

“During its first two weeks at sea, our private NGO MOAS has helped Mare Nostrum and Rome’s Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre with the rescue of around 2,000 people at sea. The men, women and children we are saving from unsafe vessels are not economic migrants; they are fleeing the ongoing wars and conflicts in Syria, Gaza and Libya.

“The situation is so desperate that they are selling all their belongings to get their families a place on these boats, in the full knowledge that they may end up like the hundreds of people who drowned at the weekend.”

Catrambone said MOAS fully supported the pleas by Angelina Jolie and UNHCR “for the world to wake up to the scale of the crisis”.

“The number of deaths reported in the Mediterranean is comparable to the numbers reported in wars and major conflicts and there is no reason to believe this is going to slow down.”

Catrambone said MOAS's first mission had shown the organisation the conditions of the people on board the small overcrowded boats they travel on.

“It has also been a special experience for us to witness the expertise, compassion and determination of Mare Nostrum and other entities, including many private commercial vessels who participate in coordinated rescues. These are heroes who are helping to prevent more tragedies at sea and should receive adequate support and incentives to continue doing so.”

She said the harsh reality was that people are still drowning in the Mediterranean, a stark reminder that the rescue of those escaping despair should be a shared endeavour.

“Mare Nostrum is doing a fantastic job, but search and rescue in the Mediterranean is a collective responsibility. This is a humanitarian crisis that requires a concerted effort and MOAS has decided to act now. Through its actions, MOAS wants to join all those who recognise that nobody deserves to die out at sea.”

MOAS, a privately-funded humanitarian initiative consists of a 40-metre ship, Phoenix, conducted by a professional crew of rescuers, seafarers, paramedics and humanitarians. Phoenix re-entered Maltese waters yesterday after concluding its first 20 days at sea.

Phoenix will be in Malta this week before setting off on its second 20-day mission next week.