Violence, Terror, Migrants and the Private Sector

This Thursday, the European Commission extended Operation Triton, which will continue to operate throughout 2015. The Asylum Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) awarded Italy €13.7 million to pay for the operation, as well as funds for a programme to help unaccompanied minors, whose numbers the EC reported increased 278% since 2013. The ‘Praesidium’ project will continue to address initial needs including medical screening and legal advice.

In yesterday’s EC press release, Dimitris Avramopoulos, the Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Commissioner said, ‘Today we face a stark reality: Europe needs to manage migration better, in all aspects…this is above all a humanitarian imperative.’

He’s right. The initiative is wonderful news for the people who make landfall. But what about those who don’t? MOAS is now more important than ever.

The EC stated that it will address ‘the root causes of migration’ at the next Home Affairs Council on 12 March.

Meanwhile, IS threatens Rome and extremist propagandists urge mining Libya for its Qaddafi-era weapons and bringing it into the al-Baghdadi caliphate. In an uploaded essay called ‘Libya: The Strategic Gateway for the Islamic State,’ the author writing under the name Abu Arhim al-Libim describes the country as having ‘…a long coast, and looks upon the southern Crusader states, which can be reached with ease by even a rudimentary boat.’

Last Sunday, smugglers pointed Kalashnikovs at rescuers to reclaim their cargo ship for restocking. The urgency of the event hints that smugglers may be stepping up operations to cash in before IS kicks them out. Even with more money and support, how can Operation Triton keep up?

In backing Operation Triton and increasing aid to refugee and asylum seekers, the EC has shown that migrant issues belong to all of us. But the initiative fails to address the most urgent problem: people are dying at sea.

Maritime law requires that commercial vessels must help ships in distress. But the stakes just got higher. Is it fair to ask the private sector to intervene in a situation that may involve violence, terrorists or both?

MOAS offers an apolitical and humanitarian approach to the problem. We are experienced and solely dedicated to Search and Rescue. Merchant ships face deadlines and Operation Triton patrols borders. MOAS saves lives. With more funding, we can help keep migrants from dying at sea.

MOAS has proved they can respond, coordinate and assist in Search and Rescue. We are looking to fund the 2015 season and look forward to discussing this topic further. Contact me at