Red Cross and MOAS search and rescue: Nearly 700 people rescued in the Mediterranean

Published: 11 September 2016

Geneva, 11 September - The Responder ship rescued more than 250 people by yesterday in the southern Mediterranean, just hours after returning to the area. The ship saved 286 people including 10 children from a wooden boat and two inflated rubber dinghies, all seriously overloaded and unsafe. The youngest passenger was just three months old.

Meanwhile, sister ship the Phoenix rescued 401 people including at least 10 children.  

On one rescue carried out by the Responder, the bow (front) of a dinghy began to deflate, sending frightened people into the sea. Fortunately all wore life jackets distributed by expert rescuers from the Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) and could be rescued.

The operation is a partnership between MOAS and the Italian Red Cross, with support from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

Once on board the Responder, a Red Cross team with members from coming from Romania, Switzerland, Italy and New Zealand provided medical checks, first aid and water. Passengers were from South Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

"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. We had no papers to leave legally." She said they paid USD 1,000 each for the deadly trip and another USD 1,000 for each 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.

The ships are now awaiting instructions from the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre on whether the passengers will be transferred to other vessels or taken to Italy.

There are other migrant boats and rescuers in the Mediterranean.

Over 3,000 women, children and men have drowned this year trying to cross the Mediterranean.  The world must work together to stop growing indifference to deaths and suffering along the migration trail.

The Responder works with a smaller sister ship, the Phoenix, to patrol and conduct rescue missions along the route between North Africa and Italy where the majority of drownings this year have occurred.

For live updates from the Responder, follow: @RosemarieNorth.


For further information, interviews, photos or video please contact:

On the Responder:

Rosemarie North, spokesperson, IFRC

Tel: +31 6 22 35 67 75 | Twitter: @RosemarieNorth

In Italy:

Laura Bastianetto, spokesperson, Italian Red Cross

Email: | Tel: +39 3207 979 485 | Twitter: @LBastianetto

In Budapest:

Nichola Jones, emergency communications delegate, IFRC Europe

Email : |Mobile : +36 70 430 6506 | Twitter : @nicjones81

In Geneva:

Benoit Carpentier, Team leader, public communications, IFRC

E-mail: | Mobile: +41 792 132 413 | Twitter: @BenoistC