“There but for the grace of God, go I.”
The world is witnessing the largest displacement of people escaping unconscionable atrocities, wars, conflicts, genocides, religious persecution, and hunger. In the Mediterranean area alone millions are displaced due to the Syrian conflict.
Who would dare risk their own lives let alone the lives of their children to escape horrors beyond human comprehension? How many children wash ashore as though their short lived lives have no other meaning than to alert the global community to each person’s individual sense humanity and empathy.
“Children make up one in four of refugees and migrants crossing the Mediterranean since January 2015. Many travel without their parents or caretakers.” UNHCR
A new leader is emerging for the Mediterranean refugee crisis, a search and rescue charity Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) founded by two entrepreneurs and humanitarians, Christopher and Regina Catrambone.
Witnessing the hundreds of drownings off the Italian island of Lampeduse in 2013, the Catrambone’s founded MOAS to take action. In early 2014, with their own funds, they purchased one Canadian fishing boat MY Phoenix, converted it into a search and rescue vessel along with a crew; two rigid hull inflatable boats; and two drones, remotely piloted Schiebel Camcopter S-100s. Within six months, in August 2014, MOAS became the first private rescue ship off the coast of Libya. The MOAS crew, since 2104, has saved more than 12,000 refugees.
MOAS currently operates off of the Greek island of Agathonisi, with a 51-metre vessels with two rescue launches, named after Alan Kurdi, the young boy whose photograph on the shore brought startled the world one more time to the plight of the Syrian refugees, and his brother, Galip Kurdi. Doctors from CISOM and rescue swimmers from Lagan Search and Rescue also contribute to the MOAS rescue missions.
“What we are witnessing in the Aegean Sea is even more horrendous than what we experienced in the Mediterranean. Due to the shorter distances, smugglers take increased risks at the expense of the refugees, often giving them worthless lifejackets and inflatable boats that simply cannot reach shore. Despite worsening weather conditions, refugees continue to make the desperate crossing, many times finding themselves washed onto jagged rocks and sustaining serious injuries,” said MOAS founder Christopher Catrambone.
MOAS notes that “according to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), 2016 appears to be a record year for both refugee arrivals and deaths at sea. In the first three weeks, fatalities have already reached 113, which is more than the past two Januaries combined. In the same three-week period, some 37,000 migrants and refugees have reached Italy and Greece by sea, which is 10 times the total of 2015.”
MOAS continues to seek the public’s support to expand their operations. “It is thanks to donations from the general public that we are able to remain at sea saving lives. A donation to MOAS will keep us at sea for longer and that could mean the difference between life and death for many Syrian refugee families fleeing war and persecution. Having established an excellent working relationship with the Hellenic Coast Guard in a short period of time, we are proud to be keeping the memory of Alan Kurdi alive together with the support of people all over the world who agree that nobody deserves to die at sea,” said MOAS director Martin Xuereb.
Since its founding, MOAS now operates in the Aegean Sea, the Andaman Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. MOAS core belief is “No-one deserves to die at sea.”
A team of entrepreneurs have broken through bureaucracies to create a navel fleet under the flag of humanitarism to reach thousands desperately seeking safety. Their success demonstrates that leadership along with entrepreneurial problem solving, skill, talent, innovative technology and a willingness to do what is right for humanity is a role model for all.
“Everyone has the right to life. That’s why MOAS continues to save lives at the world’s most dangerous border crossing – the sea.”
By Keri Douglas, founder and editor of 9MusesNews.com, a web magazine on new trends in art, business and science. This article is copyright protected. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Photos used with permission from MOAS. Photo credit MOAS.EU/Jason Florio.