[WATCH] Private migrant rescue operation an example to EU states – Metsola

'No one deserves to die at sea. We need to give people dignity when they reach our backyard. This is Europe's backyard, not just Malta's or Italy's but even Germany's and Sweden's' - philanthropist Christopher Catrambone

MEP Metsola praises private rescue operation (Photos by Ray Attard)
MEP Metsola praises private rescue operation (Photos by Ray Attard)
Brig.Xuereb thanks Metsola for support
Brig.Xuereb thanks Metsola for support
MEP Roberta Metsola visits MOAS • Video by Ray Attard

Three thousand migrants crossing the Mediterranean sea were rescued by a private migrant rescue operation coordinated by philanthropists Regina and Christopher Catrambone.

The Migrant Offshore Aid Station operated for the first time last summer, using a 40-metre ship equipped with two camcopters and a professional crew including rescuers, seafarers, paramedics and humanitarians.

During a visit on board the Phoenix, PN MEP Roberta Metsola praised the efforts of the private rescue operation.

“The commitment shown by MOAS in saving thousands of lives at sea is an example to all EU States. It is projects like this that will help combat the ‘culture of indifference’ that surrounds the issue of migration on so many fronts,” Metsola, deputy coordinator of European Parliament’s civil liberties committee, said.

During a tour of the vessel, Metsola and PN MP Francis Zammit Dimech also met project director and former AFM commander Brigadier Martin Xuereb.

“Our focus is on saving lives and on giving survivors the dignity they deserve. We provide even the most basic forms of aid like blankets, and baby formulas to the survivors of these terrible wrecks,” Christopher Catrambone said.

"No one deserves to die at sea. We need to give people dignity when they reach our backyard. This is Europe's backyard, not just Malta's or Italy's but even Germany's and Sweden's."

Of the hundreds of persons encountered out at sea, the rescue operation also experienced a number of cases where babies were born onboard the ship shortly after the mother would have been rescued.

One boy, an eleven-year-old, was sent to face the journey alone because his parents could only pay a one-person passage.

Among several difficult rescue operations, Catrambone said on one occasion there had been 331 people – crew excluded – on board the Phoenix. Two rescue operations had been carried out one after each other, 35 nautical miles off Libya’s shores.

Praising the couple’s efforts, Metsola said that the thousands of lives saved by MOAS shined a light on inaction by some EU governments in this respect. She called for a successful holistic approach to migration where any approach must start with saving lives.
“Inaction risks further tragedies in our seas. EU States cannot shirk their responsibility just because they are not geographically in the Mediterranean,” she said.

Zammit Dimech, recently appointed spokesperson on migration, reiterated the call for a European solution: “Too many people have lost their lives crossing the Mediterranean. This is a European issue that requires a European solution.”

As a privately-run mission, MOAS needs to raise funds to continue its operation. Although it is currently not in operation, the team is working hard to raise funds. “Our focus is on raising funds and finding the necessary partners to be able to ensure sustainable operation this year. The response has been phenomenal and we have already collected more than €60,000 from the general public,” the brigadier said.

More in National