MOAS-MSF rescue 369 migrants, assist in rescue of 104

Privately funded humanitarian organization based in Malta

04 May, 18:17

    (ANSAmed) - ROME, MAY 4 - A privately funded humanitarian organization working with Doctors Without Borders (MSF) has saved nearly 10% of the over 6,000 migrants rescued at sea at the weekend, sources said Monday.

    The Malta-based Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) teamed up with MSF earlier this year to rescue people fleeing war and hunger in Africa and the Middle East, risking their lives on the Mediterranean in often unseaworthy boats run by unscrupulous people smugglers.

    MOAS is equipped with a 40-metre (130 ft) expedition vessel named the Phoenix, two drones, two rigid-hulled inflatable boats, and a highly experienced team of rescuers and paramedics.

    On Sunday the joint MOAS-MSF operation took 369 mostly Eritrean migrants, including children and pregnant women, on board the Phoenix.

    "Nothing prepares you for the sight of 369 people crammed onto a fishing boat," said MOAS cofounder Chris Catrambone, who set up the organization along with wife Regina Liotta Catrambone.

    "Hours after we began the rescue, the boat still seemed full," he said.

    "That's how packed it was," he said.

    On Monday morning, the Phoenix crew assisted in the rescue of an additional 104 people, transferring them to a merchant marine vessel.

    Also on Monday morning, MSF teams at Pozzallo, in Sicily, provided assistance as 877 mostly Eritrean migrants landed.

    Twelve of them were hospitalized due to pregnancy-related or respiratory ailments, sources said.

    MOAS saved 3,000 people over two months last year. This year's MOAS-MSF operation was made possible thanks to private financing, including from a German entrepreneur, and is carried out in international waters following directives from the Rome Coast Guard command. (ANSAmed).

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