Favorable weather conditions in the past few weeks have led to a surge of people risking their lives to cross the Mediterranean. In search of safety, many make the journey to Europe in overcrowded boats and dinghies. Red Cross medics provide care to survivors in urgent need of medical attention along with blankets, food, water and dry clothes. The medics—aboard the Responder and Phoenix vessels—have come to the aid of hundreds of migrants since the beginning of September.
Saturday, September 10, was a day of intense rescue operations on the Mediterranean Sea. The global Red Cross network and its partner, Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS), came to the aid of people in a dinghy that began to deflate. Since the beginning of September, at least twenty of the migrants recued have been children. The youngest passenger was just three months old.
"We just had to leave Benghazi," said a woman who fled Libya. "Our house was destroyed, I lost my job and so did my husband." She said they paid $1,000 USD each for the dangerous trip and another $1,000 USD each for a small backpack. Men from Gambia and Senegal talked about working in Libya without pay and being imprisoned and beaten until their families paid for their release.
On the Responder, Red Cross aid workers from Italy, Switzerland and New Zealand provide post-rescue assistance. On the Phoenix, post-rescue care is carried out by Italian Red Cross volunteers and staff. People who have died are transferred to the Responder with care and respect before they are taken to land.
The teams also provide a level of emotional comfort to migrants, many of whom have faced unspeakable trauma.
“Most passengers are simply relieved to be alive,” wrote Rosemarie North, a Red Crosser aboard the Responder vessel. “They tell me that they’ve slept really peacefully for the first time in ages,” she said.
The rescue missions of the Responder and Phoenix vessels are a partnership between the global Red Cross network and Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS). The ships patrol and conduct rescue missions along the route between North Africa and Italy where the majority of this year’s estimated 3,100 drownings have occurred.
The American Red Cross is supporting disaster relief activities related to the Europe migration crisis, such as search-and-rescue efforts in the Mediterranean; the distribution of food, water, and hygiene items; and reconnecting separated family members.
For live updates and a daily video diary from the Responder, follow: @RosemarieNorth.
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American Red Cross