I came across this rather enchanting scene, this morning, as I was walking around Sliema, Malta – the only way, for me personally, to get a real feel for a place. It’s one of the first things I love to do, when I travel to a new place… take some time, stroll around, and get my bearings (no GPS or maps involved!).
I sat on a rock, nearby, trying not to feel like an intruder, and marveled at this sight, and the tranquility it invoked. It looked as if this was a regular occurrence, as the horse was obviously very used to standing there in the water, taking in the early morning rays, as his master stood quietly by. The man looked over at me, and smiled, ‘good morning’, he said, before turning his attention back to gazing intently at his horse; as I quietly slipped away.
‘For the media, it can be a difficult story to cover. Drownings in remote ocean locales are not places that reporters and photographers can reach easily or rapidly. All too often, the boats they seek to find are lost to the depths before anyone can arrive. So the images the world sees of the migrant crisis are usually those of survivors being led ashore from rescue vessels. Rarely do we see the moment rescuers reach migrants in open waters.
That’s what makes these images so remarkable…’ Read the full feature in Foreign Policyhere.
“Some of them were a little bit nervous when they saw the HMS Bulwark show up on the horizon,” Florio said from aboard the organization’s 130-foot ship, the Phoenix. “But I think they were just thankful they weren’t floating around in a rubber dinghy anymore.” Jason Florio. MOAS, 2015 migrant rescues, on-board photographer, talks about transferring migrants, rescued by MOAS, to HMS Bulwark. Read more, and see more of Florio’s images, on the VICE News website.
Three migrant women intoxicated by fuel fumes are taken onto the merchant vessel Orient Green by the Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) search and rescue team.
They were aboard a rubber dinghy carrying 104 migrants (predominantly Gambians, from West Africa) who were later also all transferred onto the Orient Green by MOAS after being given life jackets and water.
They were not transferred onto the Phoenix because the vessel already had 369 people on board and was therefore already overloaded.
MOAS founder Christopher Catrambone was the lead rescuer on this mission.
Photographer, Jason Florio, May 4th, 2015, presently on route to Sicily, with hundreds of migrants – including men, women, children, babies – after being involved in two rescue missions just off the coast of Libya, over the weekend:
‘I left Malta just over 24 hours ago on board the Migrant Offshore Aid Station MOAS ship, The Phoenix, and headed into the Mediterranean sea towards Libya – Within that short time the team has already rescued 469 migrants from two vessels – Its an intense experience, and rings close to home as so many of the people the team rescued (on the second boat) were from Gambia. Big Thanks to Robert Young Pelton for getting me on board. www.moas.eu ‘ JF
I can imagine the Gambians, on the second boat (rubber dinghy, in this case, holding 109 people) MOAS rescued, surprise at being greeted in Mandinka, one of their local languages, by a man in a protective, bright white (Hazmat) suit and mask, wielding a big camera (Jason Florio) – “they were happy to hear their own language, one man said” Florio told me. I truly hope it gave them a little comfort in what is clearly a harrowing, and extremely dangerous, journey which will continue way beyond being dropped off on foreign soil.
Once the Phoenix drops the rescued migrants in Sicily tomorrow morning, the crew will head back out towards Libya again, to carry on their rescue mission. Wishing them a safe onwards and, in the words of Robert Young Pelton, today: “Kudos to the crew of #MOAS and #MSF for 19 straight hours of hard work”
For a continuous updates on the progress of MOAS and their ongoing mission, follow @RYP_ and @MOAS-eu, I’ll also be updating regularly on the @floriophotoNYC account and here on the blog.
MOAS – Migrant Offshore Aid Station, based in Malta: dedicated to preventing loss of life at sea by providing assistance to migrants who find themselves in distress while crossing the Mediterranean Sea in unsafe vessels… Read more about the incredible work that MOAS do here.
Last year, the charity helped to save 3,000 migrants during a 60 day mission. Photographer, Jason Florio, flew into Malta earlier last week, in preparation to join the MOAS team, on their boat, ‘Phoenix’, which departs Malta tomorrow, Saturday 2nd May, on it’s first rescue mission of this year.
I’ll be updating the progress of the Phoenix, as and when I get news from Florio. In light of the last couple of weeks – far too many lives lost so tragically – in the Mediterranean, and the astonishing increase in migrants making the perilous crossing so far this year (‘over 10,100 in the first three months of 2015‘ UNHCR), it will be a journey worth following.