25 May 2015

Migrant relief missions in the Mediterranean

From Nine To Noon, 9:22 am on 25 May 2015

More migrants lose their lives trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea than at any border in the world, and the numbers attempting the perilous journey between Libya and Europe is expected to surge this year.

In response to this humanitarian crisis, the Migrant Offshore Aid Station and its 40 metre ship, the Phoenix, was founded by a wealthy husband a wife team Chris and Regina Caterambone.

In its first year the MOAS operation picked up 3,000 migrants at sea.

The inspiration behind MOAS started in 2013 when the Caterambone's spotted a winter coat floating on the waves near the Italian Island of Lampedusa, and when they learnt it was from a dead migrant they felt compelled to do more.

This year  the DIY team of sea rescuers, has joined up with Doctors Without Borders and launched its second season of migrant relief missions, a six month operation from May - October 2015 .

They have already picked up 1,441 migrants in two weeks.

With 1,800 deaths already this year, growing anarchy in the Middle East, and a scaled down coast guard the numbers are expected to soar.

Meanwhile,  to combat the huge influx in migrants,  the European Union has agreed to establish a naval force to target people-traffickers, which may involve the deployment of warships and surveillance aircraft off the coast of Libya, as early as next month.

Nine to Noon's Kathryn Ryan talks to 47-year-old Martin Xuereb, Malta's former Chief of Defense - now the director of The Migrant Offshore Aid Station.