MOAS EMBARKS ON FIRST MISSION TO ASSIST MIGRANTS IN THE MEDITERRANEAN

“MOAS has kept in mind one fundamental belief: Nobody de-serves to die at sea.” Regina Catrambone, MOAS founder.

Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS), a privately-funded humanitarian project working to prevent migrant deaths in the Mediterranean Sea, launched its first operation today.

The mission will take place aboard a 40-metre ship, Phoenix, conducted by a professional crew of rescuers, seafarers, paramedics and humanitarians.

The vessel will also be equipped with two Schiebel remote piloted aircraft (CAMCOPTER® S-100) which will monitor the seas from the sky and provide real-time intelligence to MOAS and the Rescue Coordination Centres of Malta and Italy. MOAS will spend 60 days at sea this summer, divided into various missions.

“Getting this project off the ground has not been easy. It’s taken more than a year for us to turn our dream into a reality. Finally, we are ready to get started,” said Regina Catrambone, who founded MOAS together with her husband Christopher Catrambone.

“Much has changed since we came up with the idea last summer. Mare Nostrum has started successfully but unfortunately, its future is not guaranteed. Meanwhile, more people have been displaced from Syria, Iraq and Gaza. Boats have now started to reach Italian shores unchecked, many of them full of unaccompanied minors. The Ebola outbreak further complicated matters,” she added.

“In the face of all this, MOAS has kept in mind one fundamental belief: Nobody deserves to die at sea.”

“Our focus is on the young child who finds himself or herself on a unsafe boat through no fault of their own. We believe they deserve to be saved. They might be sent back or face problems in Europe. But at least they did not die at sea. And maybe one they they will grow up and dedicate some of their time, money and energy to helping others. This is the spirit of our mission,” said Ms Carambone.

Ms Catrambone thanked the press and the public for their response to MOAS. In particular, she thanked Houston-based NGO Medical Bridges for their generous donation of medical supplies.

MOAS will act as an offshore aid station so its primary aim will not be to carry migrants to one country or another. Instead, it aims to locate and monitor migrant boats and provide aid and assistance to vessels in distress. It will coordinate all of its activities according to its legal obligations at sea and in direct liaison with the Italian and Maltese authorities.

MOAS director Brigadier Martin Xuereb, who served as Malta’s Chief of Defence until last year, said: “We will be an asset at the disposal of the authorities, just as any fishing boat or commercial vessel. The only difference is that we have the capabilities, experience and willing- ness to assist effectively.”

The paramedics on board MOAS will assist vessels in distress by providing lifejackets, water, food and medical supplies using two Rigid-Hull Inflatable Boats (Rhibs/dinghies).

The Schiebel CAMCOPTER® S-100, which will be used to locate vessels in distress, are for the first time being deployed from onboard an NGO-owned ship.

“We are more than happy to provide our capability and experience for MOAS to locate people in need. With our combined effort we can save the lives of refugees in the Mediterranean Sea and hopefully raise awareness for the situation of migrants worldwide,” said Schiebel chairman Hans Schiebel.

To monitor the progress of the vessel and keep up to date with the latest news, follow MOAS on twitter @moas_eu and use the hashtag #MOAS to enter discussions about migration. Donations can be made on www.moas.eu