President of Malta is introduced to our new Migrant Offshore Aid Station
On 12 December I had the honour of meeting the President of Malta to hand over a donation to the Maltese charity event, L-istrina 2013. The event supports the work of charities across Malta, including those who help people with serious illness get the very best treatment available in countries including Britain and Israel.
At the meeting, we discussed my plans to launch the Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS), a specialist floating aid station which will alleviate the pain and suffering endured by migrants undertaking the perilous journey from North Africa. The President called the initiative a ‘very noble effort’.
I believe we can no longer ignore the issue of migrants travelling through this deadly corridor; thousands of innocent men, women and children displaced by civil and international conflicts, natural disasters, poverty, discrimination, ethnic or sectarian prejudices or by danger to their safety and life; their fate entrusted to heartless smugglers, their only hope a rickety boat.
What we saw off the coast of Lampedusa in October 2013 must never be repeated. Between July and October of 2014, a MOAS crew will sail its 39-metre (130-ft) expedition vessel – Phoenix I – to major migrant shipping lanes and set anchor. From this fixed point the crew will monitor the area using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs or drones) and use human lookouts to spot migrant vessels in distress. Deployed around the clock, the UAVs can cover greater distances with more accuracy thanks to sonar, thermal and night-imaging.
Once a migrant vessel is spotted, its location will immediately be reported to the competent authorities whilst MOAS crew members, including multilingual staff and medical staff, will assess the needs of the migrants via Fast Rigid-hulled Inflatable Boats (RIB). RIBs will be stocked with water, non-perishable food, life jackets, blankets and medical supplies for speedy distribution in order to stabilise the situation.
If someone urgently needs medical care, that person will be treated by a MOAS medical care provider. Palliative care will be administered to whoever needs it. If a ship is in danger of sinking, migrants will be assisted as we await the arrival of competent authorities, who will take care of the situation.
Our goal is to reduce human suffering in any legal way possible. In keeping with maritime law, MOAS will not transport or assist in transporting migrants, but we will use all our resources to locate and treat suffering humans desperate for a better life.
For further information on MOAS visit: www.moas.eu