24 Oct 7 Days, 371 Lives
It’s been quite a week.
Over the first 5 days of the current MOAS mission, Phoenix and her crew rescued 371 migrants. Within 24 hours of setting sail, we were dispatched to rescue a dinghy in distress. It contained 97 people, including 6 women, one of whom was heavily pregnant.
Tuesday’s 274-person rescue included 21 women and 17 children. The crew took its routine and careful temperature of each passenger, monitoring for fever, and evaluated his or her health and medical history. One woman was 9 months pregnant, and there were a number of very young children and new-born babies.
It was my wife Regina’s discovery of a ‘winter jacket floating in the water, like a ghost’ in the middle of summer that compelled my wife to ask more. The captain told us that the jacket probably belonged to a migrant who drowned at sea. MOAS was born.
After we handed over the migrants to Italian authorities, Regina, our daughter Maria Luisa and I spent some time thinking about those women and children. Regina was relieved that they had gotten to safety. A mother herself, she worried about all the women and children who won’t be so lucky once Mare Nostrum and Rome’s Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre end their programmes.
Most eighteen-year-olds care more about men and manicures than what’s really going on in the world. For my daughter, being aboard Phoenix during a rescue really put things into perspective. After a year of hearing her parents talk about this project, she’s finally seen first-hand what we’re doing. As a result, Maria Luisa has taken on the MOAS social media coverage, to ensure more young people know about our cause.
The MOAS missions are almost over for 2014. After restocking, Phoenix will make her last voyage for the year. In just the span of two months, MOAS missions have rescued over 2,500 people destined to die at sea.
With more boats, more funding, and continued cooperation and coordination with the authorities, how many more men, women and children can we save?