€100,000 Pledged to Save and Protect Migrant Lives in Mediterranean

The Irish Red Cross has pledged €100,000 in support of migrant search and rescue activities in the Mediterranean. The money will support the Red Cross ‘Responder’ rescue vessel which has cared for nearly 3,800 people found drifting in the Mediterranean since it was launched in August this year. 

The pledge comes as a meeting of the Platform for European Red Cross Cooperation on Refugees, Asylum Seekers and Migrants (PERCO) takes place in Ireland this week.  Red Cross Migration practitioners from twenty nine countries were present at the meeting in Malahide, Dublin, to coordinate the Red Cross’ ongoing humanitarian response to the current crisis in Europe.  Red Cross and Red Crescent teams are providing assistance to migrants along the entire migration trail including North Africa and the Mediterranean.

Addressing the PERCO group, Liam O’Dwyer Secretary General of the Irish Red Cross, said, “The extraordinary level of migration we are witnessing is tragedy enough. We must prevent more lives being lost.  Protection of the most vulnerable is a collective responsibility.  It is a moral and legal obligation”.  

The Irish Red Cross contribution to the Responder will enable the ship to continue patrolling the central Mediterranean route between North Africa and Italy. An area where the majority of the 3,600 drownings this year have occurred.  The team on-board includes a doctor, two nurses and a logistics officer.  Once safely on-board migrants receive health checks and first aid from the Red Cross medical team.  They are then transported to Italy, primarily ports in Sicily, where they are met and cared for by local Red Cross teams.

Italy is currently the primary point of entry for migrants heading to Europe. In excess of 144,000 people have arrived so far in 2016. “Despite the added hazard of winter sea conditions, we expect that thousands more people will attempt the journey across the Mediterranean before the year is out”, said Mr O’Dwyer.

In Ireland, the Irish Red Cross is coordinating offers of support made to the individuals and families impacted by the migration crisis arriving in Ireland.  Speaking about the hundreds of homes pledged to the Irish Red Cross for migrants arriving in the country under the IRPP Mr O’Dwyer finished his address by saying, “The houses are ready.  The Irish people are ready. We urge the Government to uphold their commitment to bring 4,000 migrants to Ireland as a matter of urgency and to welcome and support them in a structured manner leading to integration”.


Notes to Editor:

For more information please contact: Rebecca Dunne, Irish Red Cross Communications Executive, 087 743 3275 / rdunne@redcross.ie

•    The Platform for European Red Cross Co-operation on Refugees, Asylum Seekers and Migrants (PERCO) was established in 1997 to promote good practice and exchange of experience and discuss common concerns and carry out relevant joint activities. It is a high-level forum that considers a wide range of issues on migration including integration, safe routes of travel, detention and EU policy.PERCO produces position papers, country updates and guidelines on various humanitarian aspects of asylum and migration affairs in Europe.  

•    The Responder operation is being implemented in agreement with Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS), the organisation who are responsible for employing the core team of the ship, management and operation of the ship itself.  

•    The Irish Red Cross and migration
The Irish Red Cross has a long-standing tradition of assisting with reception, care and integration of people fleeing their home country. In the 1950s, the Irish Red Cross supported Hungarians who fled the Soviet invasion. In the 70s families from Northern Ireland and Vietnam were supported; in the 1980s members of the Baha’i community; and in the 1990s Bosnians escaping the Balkans war.

About the Red Cross and Red Crescent
The Red Cross and Red Crescent form parts of the world’s largest humanitarian organisation, the International Red Cross Red Crescent Movement. The Movement is neutral and impartial, and provides protection and assistance to people affected by disasters and conflicts.
The Movement is made up of nearly 100 million members, volunteers and supporters in 190 National Societies. It has three main components:
o    The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)
o    The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)
o    190 member Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies including the Irish Red Cross

Mediterranean sea. Over the course of three hours in the middle of the night, 379 migrants came aboard the Responder. Rescued by other ships outside of Libyan waters, the migrants transfer onto the Responder was not an easy task. The MOAS team pulled people over a gulf from one boat to the other, as the Red Cross team provided health checks and cared for those who were shivering, dehydrated, and had suffered recent beatings. The migrants including three children traveling without parents stayed on board for three nights as they transferred to Messina, Italy. Passengers came from Bangladesh, Mali, Togo, Senegal, Nigeria, Guinea, Syria, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Gambia, Benin, and Morocco.