Stories from the Sea: MOAS and the Refugee Crisis

Since MOAS’ launch in 2014, we have witnessed desperation and death, resilience and hope: faces of the current refugee crisis.

Little did we know when we launched the first operation in the Mediterranean that we would be lead on such an emotional journey, and that along the way we would save the lives of over 12,000 people and counting.

It has not been an easy trip. Over the months we have seen with our own eyes the level of despair, the incredible instinct to survive and the misery, which drives tens of thousands of people to board rickety boats in an attempt to make the dangerous crossing.


In our time at sea, we have seen women, pregnant and exhausted, collapse on our deck, feeling safe for the first time in months. We have warmed toddlers, suffering from hypothermia after long hours in the freezing waters of the Aegean. We have seen the scars littering the bodies of young men, souvenirs of the violence and persecution they have left behind. We are all haunted by the images of drowned children floating on the ocean or littering the beaches.

Being on the front lines of the current refugee crisis at sea has been a life-changing experience for all our team, on many levels. If there is anything that the MOAS experience has done for us, it is to reinforce our team’s determination to save more lives.

The more children, women and men we rescue, the more motivated we are to do more.

12,000 is not just a number for us. It is not an anonymous mass of desperate souls. Every single refugee we have rescued has a face, a name, a dream and a story to share.

We have created this blog, above all, as a means to give each one of them their dignity back.

We hope these stories from the sea will give you a glimpse into our brief, but intense encounters with refugees at sea. We will relay their stories of forced exile, suffering, hopes and dreams of a new life. We hope to give them a voice as we keep shedding a light on this ongoing tragedy.

This blog will also give you insight into the life-saving operations of the MOAS team: the physical and emotional struggles, the priceless sense of reward following a successful rescue, and our team’s pure happiness of seeing children safe and smiling. Through personal accounts, photos and videos, we will do our best to share what it’s like on board our life saving missions.

The human cost of the refugee crisis is becoming too high with each passing day. We simply cannot ignore it. At MOAS, we have made a clear decision not to stand by and watch. Many across the world have already shown us their overwhelming support – and for that we are eternally grateful.

We hope that many more people will feel compelled to share our belief: every human being has the right to seek safety from war, persecution and deprivation and no one deserves to die at sea.

Welcome on board.

The Founders and the MOAS team