This Louisiana Couple Is Outfitting a Private Yacht to Save Refugees in the Mediterranean Sea

by Owen James Burke

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Above: The Malta-based Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) makes its first rescue in August 2014. Since, they’ve rescued more than 3,000. Photo: Barcroft Media /Landov

Every day, derelict ships, small wooden boats and even dinghies set out to sea from North Africa carrying refugees who are stuffed together “like sardines.” Record numbers of refugees from Africa and beyond are attempting the perilous passage across the Mediterranean in vessels unfit for the sea, but according to NPR, Amnesty International’s Matteo de Bellis has released a statement saying, “No European country has a search and rescue operation dedicated to saving migrants at sea, something that’s becoming a near daily occurrence.”

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Louisiana businessmen, humanitarian, adventurer and MOAS cofounder Christopher Catrambone. Photo: Leila Fadel/NPR

Enter Lake Charles, Louisiana businessman Christopher Catrambone and his Italian wife. Catrambone and wife Regina were cruising the Mediterranean when she spotted a jacket floating eerily in the middle of the sea. Pointing it out to a crew member, she learned that it likely belonged to a refugee who perished during an attempted passage. After further research into the matter, the couple were appalled by the lack of sympathy in Europe for those struggling to escape conflict in Africa and the Middle East.

Since, the couple has relocated to Malta where they have purchased the Phoenix, a 40 meter, $8 million dollar yacht and hired crew to form a vigilante rescue operation, the Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS). MOAS was only established last summer and it’s likely the only organization of its kind, but alone they’ve already saved thousands.

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Screenshot from MOAS’ video

MOAS operated for just 60 days last year, but reported that they “saved hundreds of migrants in rickety wooden boats or dinghies.” This year, they’re hoping to run for six months.

218,000 made the journey last year, and some 3,500 drowned. So far this year, those numbers are already 50% higher than last year’s.

Here’s how you can help the Catrambones.

Read the full story on NPR — OJB

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