Search and rescue charity Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) is preparing to set sail on 2015 sea rescue mission in the Mediterranean waters starting in May.
The mission is aimed at helping reduce the number of refugees, migrants and asylum seekers that venture out to sea in unseaworthy vessels on journeys that often turn out to be fatal.
The international team of volunteers is said to be comprised of 20 crew members working on board a 40-metre vessel, the Phoenix.
MOAS hopes to set sail again between May and October this year and is currently in discussion with organisations and companies to ensure long-term sustainability.
German entrepreneur and philanthropist Jürgen Wagentrotz has decided to donate more than €180,000 to MOAS.
His company Oil and Gas Invest AG (OGI AG) will be donating to the organisations’ substantial fuel needs, one of the largest costs involved in the search and rescue operations.
MOAS has raised more than €80,000 through its crowdfunding initiative, half of which has been received from German citizens.
The charity last year helped save 3,000 migrants during its 60 day mission in the central Mediterranean Sea.
The growing humanitarian crisis in the Mediterranean Sea has seen European and global operators of merchant ships joining forces with seafarers’ unions to urge EU Member States to take immediate collective action to address the burning issue.
Since 2014, thousands of people have been attempting the dangerous sea crossing to Europe, from Africa and the Middle East, in overcrowded boats not fit for purpose, with over 3,500 people having already lost their lives. Many are at the mercy of people smugglers.
In a joint letter to leaders of all 28 EU Members States, the European Community Shipowners’ Associations (ECSA), the European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF), the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) have warned that the crisis is spiralling out of control.
The shipowner groups and unions are calling on all EU Member States to give immediate priority to increasing resources for Search and Rescue operations in the Mediterranean, in view of the very large number of potentially dangerous rescues now being conducted by merchant ships, a situation they believe is becoming untenable.
In practice this means that all EU Member States need to share the financial burden in order to help prevent thousands more deaths.
However, the shipping industry also suggests that the EU and the international community need to provide refugees and migrants with alternative means of finding safety, without risking their lives by crossing the Mediterranean in unseaworthy boats.
The shipowners’ representatives and unions are therefore requesting that this issue should be added, as a matter of real urgency, to the agenda of the European Council and relevant meetings of EU Ministers.
World Maritime News Staff