MOAS CELEBRATES OUR 6th BIRTHDAY
On August 30th MOAS will be celebrating our 6th birthday so, for this week’s blog, we are taking a look back at some the highlights from our operations in the Mediterranean, the Aegean, the Andaman, Bangladesh, Yemen and Malta over the past years.
Founded in 2014 in response to the migration phenomenon across the Mediterranean, we have since established ourselves as a rapid response humanitarian organisation. At MOAS we have proven that we are always ready to adapt and utilise our resources and expertise to address the most pressing humanitarian crises across the world. We’ve done this in response to the surge of refugees fleeing Myanmar into Bangladesh in August 2017, in support of Yemeni communities facing disease and famine or, most recently, the COVID-19 pandemic which has heavily impacted vulnerable migrant communities.
MOAS began as a Search and Rescue (SAR) organisation in 2014 and during our SAR missions in the Mediterranean and the Aegean Sea we rescued and assisted more than 40,000 people, many of whom we are still in contact with today.
MEMORY FROM THE MED
One story of hope which stands out to us as we look back is from a young Nigerian couple, Locky and Mary, who were placed in separate wooden boats by smugglers in Libya but despite all odds and after hours of apprehension as to whether Mary’s boat would be found –were reunited onboard MOAS’ SAR vessel.
“He was there when there was no hope”- Mary
While Mary and Locky’s story is one of hope as they now build a new life together in Europe, this young couple should never have had to face such a perilous journey simply to reach safety. Experiencing stories like this first-hand over the years have reinforced how vital it is to campaign for #SafeAndLegalRoutes to prevent people turning to smugglers, so that people like Locky and Mary do not have to face the same separation, fear and danger in their search for a better life.
MOAS IN BANGLADESH
In 2017, MOAS felt compelled to respond as an influx of Rohingya refugees streamed into Bangladesh following a period of heightened persecution in Myanmar. So, in September that year, we facilitated two aid deliveries to the region containing much needed food supplies and set up primary healthcare aid stations in Shamlapur and Unchiprang camps in the Cox’s Bazar region where we treated over 90,000 Rohingya refugees and host community members over the next two years.
MOAS is now well established in Bangladesh and today we focus on delivering flood and water safety training to Rohingya refugee and local host community volunteers to ensure people are well equipped to tackle the challenges of monsoon season such as increased cases of drownings in the camps. Since the end of March this year, MOAS has also been producing face masks for vulnerable groups across the region using our workshop and have already made and distributed more than 310,000 masks! Not only do these masks provide protection against the spread of the virus in the face of cramped conditions and lack of sanitation facilities, but they also provided much needed livelihoods to members of the community struggling financially during the pandemic.
MEMORY FROM BANGLADESH
One highlight from our operations in Bangladesh over the past three years was the delivery of our first baby at our Shamlapur aid station to a young Rohingya couple. The baby, Mohammed Yousuf, was the couple’s first child and his birth echoed his mother’s, as she was also born in a Bangladeshi refugee camp. It was a special moment for the MOAS team but we hope that there will be a long-term solution found to the Rohingya crisis before we witness third-generation births in the camps as clearly growing up in such circumstances comes with a host of challenges and restrictions on the opportunities available to these children.
MOAS IN YEMEN
At the beginning of last year, MOAS extended our operations to Yemen which is facing what has been deemed the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, with over 80% of its population in need of humanitarian assistance. Since then we have facilitated multiple nutritional and pharmaceutical aid deliveries to Aden to be distributed by our incredible in-country partners ADRA.
Our nutritional aid deliveries have supplied vital nutritional supplements to children at serious risk of, or suffering from, severe acute malnutrition and we are always blown away when we hear the stories of children making such rapid recoveries with the support of Edesia’s specifically formulated supplements which we deliver to those in need.
Take 2-year-old Nabata for example, whose family did not have enough to help her maintain a healthy weight and so without access to regular nutrition, like most children her age, she soon became extremely weak and showed no interest in playing or even in her own family. Nabata was identified as being at high risk for Severe Acute Malnutrition and was treated immediately, where she was given two sachets per day of the famine relief supplies donated by MOAS. Thanks to the treatment she received, within just one-month Nabata had gained weight and was already back to her playful, mischievous self!
Stories like Nabata’s remind us just how unnecessary deaths as a result of poor nutrition are today and how just a few months supplies of nutritional sachets can be the difference between life and death for so many children in Yemen. It is stories like hers which encourage us to continue working hard in spite of adversity to continue to assist and advocate for some of the world’s most vulnerable communities.
MOAS IN MALTA
Malta has long been a key country in Europe’s migration debate given its geographical location in the Mediterranean Sea – one of the world’s most popular migration routes. Being involved in humanitarian work in Malta has always been crucial to MOAS over the years, as this has been our base for the past six years and we are very grateful to the support we have received from the community here.
In 2019, we started organising hospital visits to migrants who have been evacuated from search and rescue vessels to the Malta hospital for emergency care, providing essential supplies, information as well as social and emotional support to those who arrive unexpectedly on the island and have yet to be processed by the local asylum system. We have also facilitated an aid delivery to the SAR vessel the Alan Kurdi and most recently, in response to COVID-19 we launched a mask making project where volunteers across the island made masks for vulnerable groups such as refugees and asylum seekers as well as the homeless and underserved Maltese families. MOAS has also purchased 40 tablets and modems with internet connections to migrant families in Malta who did not have access to the remote learning online facilities so that migrant students could continue their education during these uncertain and challenging times.
“The diffusion of the Covid19 pandemic has been hard for many families around the world. My thoughts are with the people we assisted and with our team that continue to work tirelessly and far away from their families. Solidarity is not in lockdown: it has been proved by what we achieved during this pandemic” – Regina Catrambone, MOAS Co-Founder and Director
As we celebrate our sixth birthday here at MOAS we pride ourselves on our rapid response to some of the world’s most challenging and diverse humanitarian crises over the past years and feel motivated to continue to work tirelessly to provide and assistance where it is most needed. We also want to take this opportunity to thank all our donors and supporters as without their passion and dedication towards our mission we would not be able to continue doing the vital work that we do.
If you are interested in the work of MOAS and our partners, please follow us on social media, sign up to our newsletter and share our content. You can also reach out to us any time via [email protected] If you want to support our operations, please give what you can at www.moas.eu/donate.