The Malta Independent 20 February 2019, Wednesday

MOAS looking to expand its remit beyond the Mediterranean - Martin Xuereb

Kevin Schembri Orland Sunday, 16 August 2015, 08:30 Last update: about 5 years ago

The Migrant Offshore Aid Station team (MOAS) is contemplating expanding its operation to other hotspots around the world.

In an interview with The Malta Independent on Sunday, MOAS Director and former AFM Brigadier Martin Xuereb said: “We are looking at where MOAS can help at sea. There are no firm operational plans, but we will let people know when we begin raising funds”. At this time he was unable to reveal any specific region they are considering.

MOAS is the first privately-funded mission to assist migrants at sea and its primary aim is to reduce the loss of life during dangerous migrant crossings from North Africa to Europe. The project was inspired by several recent catastrophes in the Mediterranean, which migrants regularly attempt to cross in unseaworthy vessels, and was established by Christopher and Regina Catrambone.

There are a number of hotspots around the world where MOAS help could be needed, outside the Mediterranean. Two such areas are south-east Asia and the Caribbean.

In the Caribbean, people from Haiti, Cuba and the Dominican Republic attempt to reach the USA by boat. In 2014 it was estimated that over 5,585 Haitians and 3,940 Cubans were intercepted by the US authorities. In addition, migrants in the region also try and make the voyage to the Bahamas.

In south-east Asia, migrants are mostly members of the Rohingya ethnic group, from Rakhine State. They are denied freedom to travel, citizenship and access to education in Myanmar. People from Bangladesh also flee due to poverty.

The region has seen countries such as Malaysia deny access on occasions, resulting in ships carrying migrants being stranded at sea without food or water, with tragic consequences. In May, it was estimated that around 6,000 migrants were stranded in the Straits of Malacca, near Malaysia.

Brigadier Xuereb recently went on-board MOAS’s rescue boat the Phoenix in the Mediterranean and shared his first-hand experience with this newsroom.

Read the full interview in tomorrow’s edition of The Malta Independent.

 

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