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.
Currently basing out of West Africa, with Jason Florio