MOAS Representatives Attend Italian Parliamentary Hearings while Phoenix crew conducts rescues in the Mediterranean
MOAS representatives today appeared before the Schengen Committee of the Italian Parliament and the Defence Commission of the Italian Senate to give input on mass migration in the Central Mediterranean and the role of search-and-rescue (SAR) NGOs at sea. At the same time, the crew aboard the Phoenix was engaged in multiple rescue operations in collaboration with other NGOs present in the area.
During the hearings, representatives from the organisation’s management, operations and finance departments gave a background briefing on the organisation before answering questions from parliamentary members.
Asked about the decision-making process of our SAR operations in the Mediterranean, Plans and Operations representative Ian Ruggier clarified that “MRCC Rome has de facto responsibility for the coordination of all search-and-rescue activities in the area of operations”, and that MOAS has operated under its direction since the start of our operations in 2014.
Questions were also posed regarding possible contact between MOAS and individuals in Libya, which our representatives categorically denied. Regarding questions on whether MOAS vessels have ever entered Libyan territorial waters, it was clarified that our vessels have only entered Libyan waters in rare emergency situations and only under the specific instructions of MRCC Rome, in consultation with Libyan authorities.
MOAS approached the hearings with the same ethos of transparency and cooperation that we have always maintained in our collaborations with national and EU agencies, the media and our donor community. Having given our testimony, we hope that attention can now be diverted back to the unfolding crisis; and that efforts on all sides can be channelled to finding the sustainable, legal and humanitarian solutions hundreds of thousands of people desperately need. For its part, MOAS will continue to conduct its search-and-rescue operations in the Mediterranean until such lives are no longer at risk.
Regina Catrambone, MOAS Director says: “We recognize that maritime search and rescue is not a solution to the complexities and challenges presented by the mass migratory phenomenon. MOAS has consistently advocated for alternative, safe and durable solutions to be found and it is time for European and national leaders to step up and provide those alternatives.”
MOAS is a registered charity dedicated to preventing the loss of life by providing professional search-and-rescue services along the world’s deadliest border crossing – the sea. Originally founded as a private initiative in 2014, MOAS was the first NGO to set sail into the Mediterranean with the aim of rescuing migrants and refugees who were making the perilous journey from Libya to Italy. Since then, MOAS has grown into an international organization that has rescued and assisted over 35,000 children, women and men in the Central Mediterranean and Aegean Seas. Currently, MOAS operating its 2017 Search and Rescue mission in the Central Mediterranean Sea.
Link to Schengen Committee hearing here.
Link to Defence Commission hearing here.
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