Small Aid Ships Play Big Role In Europe's Migrant Crisis


Small aid ships play big role in Europe's migrant crisis

ROME,(APP - UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 6th Augst,2016) - Two years ago, a small, privately-run ship set out to lend a hand to military operations in the Mediterranean rescuing migrants on boats near capsizing off Libya.

Today, there are a dozen such aid ships engaged in over 20 percent of the life-saving missions. The first step was taken by Christopher and Regina Catrambone, a wealthy Italian-American couple based in Malta who were aghast at the shipwreck off the island of Lampedusa in October 2013 which claimed some 365 lives. Their MOAS (Migrant Offshore Aid Station) association in 2014 launched the Phoenix, a 40-metre (130-foot) refurbished fishing vessel which paled in comparison with the vast fleet of the Mare Nostrum operation, then conducted by Italy's navy and coastguard. But some 3,000 of the 50,000 migrants rescued in the weeks that followed were saved by this small boat.

And the MOAS operation became one to emulate. "We could not leave people to die like that," said Sophie Beau, the executive director of SOS Mediterranee, a French, Italian and German organisation founded in 2015. There are now a dozen such humanitarian ships patrolling off the . coast of Libya, chartered by MOAS, Doctors Without Borders (MSF), SOS Mediterranee, the Catalan Proactiva Open Arms and German Sea-Watch, Sea-Eye and Jugend Rettet. "In some cases, we literally pulled people from the water," said Gerard Canals, the Proactiva Open Arms mission head. "In others we secured the dinghies while waiting for the larger ships, or sent our doctor aboard a military ship to examine migrants." Jugend Rettet jumped straight in at the deep end last week, its Iuventa ship dealing on day one with six overcrowded migrant dinghies at once.