Photo of the Day: The Phoenix search & rescue team leaves for another mission in the Med.

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The MOAS Phoenix departing the Grand Harbour, Valletta, Malta, 27/06/2016 © Helen Jones-Florio

 

Wishing all the team onboard the Phoenix – which also includes photographer, Jason Florio – a safe journey, as they head back down towards the coast of Libya, for their second search and rescue mission of 2016, in the Mediterranean Sea.

Helen Jones-Florio

The Phoenix Heads Out to the Mediterranean – photographer, Jason Florio, onboard once again

 

The Phoenix Heads out of Grand Harbour, Malta © Helen Jones-Florio
The Phoenix Heads out of Grand Harbour, Malta © Helen Jones-Florio

 

On Monday, June 6, 2016, I watched from my vantage point on the rocks overlooking the historical Grand Harbour, and the Three Cities, Malta, as the Phoenix sailed out towards the Mediterranean on its first mission of 2016 in those waters. Once more onboard – just as he had been in 2015 – my husband, photographer, Jason Florio, camera gear at the ready, to document the boat rescues; which began as soon as they reached their destination of the ‘Dead Zone‘, off the Libyan coast.

The next boat the Phoenix crew will see, within their vicinity, won’t be a tourist boat leisurely cruising the Three Cities, in the calm waters of the Grand Harbour, but a precariously over-crowded rubber dinghy, out in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea – which will prove to be the first of several rescues in these first few days at sea.

Love and luck, and a safe journey, to Florio and the always-inspiring, hard-working Phoenix SAR team and the crew  – and to the Responder crew too, MOAS’s 2nd boat (which Florio was onboard earlier this year, on its missions in the Aegean Sea), which will be alongside, patrolling the waters.

Helen Jones-Florio

Check out Jason Florio’s blog, with regular updates about his assignments

HJF © Jason Florio
HJF © Jason Florio

The Phoenix migrant offshore aid station (MOAS) returns to Malta, from another successful rescue mission

Knowing how much dedication and hard work the whole crew, and MSF (Medecins sans Frontieres) – along with photojournalist, Jason Florio –  had put into yet another successful mission, I was honoured, to be able to watch, from the vantage point of one of Malta’s ancient ‘Three Cities’,  Birgu, as the Phoenix glided into the Grand Harbour, yesterday.

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The Phoenix pulling into Bezzina Boat Yard, Marsa – Image © Helen Jones-Florio

 

The MOAS owned vessel (migrant offshore aid station) was returning from Sicily, after disembarking, for the fourth time in their three week mission, another boat full of rescued migrants. from the Bouri oil fields area – which lie about 40km off the coast of Libya, in the Mediterranean Sea.

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Image © Helen Jones-Florio

 

Then, a quick dash through the back streets of Malta (thanks to Charlie, the MOAS driver, whose Maltese style of driving invariably brings the the contents of my stomach up to my throat!) towards the Bezzina Boat Yard , to catch the Phoenix as it docked, and the crew disembarking, smiles, laughter – and a few tears – happy to be welcomed by family and friends. And, perhaps with some relief, to have a little respite from the exhaustive, and often emotionally-charged, rescues of hundreds of men, women, children, and babies  – many of whom, openly sharing their hellacious experiences of war, persecution, rape, abduction, and extortion. And, then, to be pushed out to sea  – for many, their first time ever on open water – in battered, old, wooden fishing boats, originally made to hold a small crew of fishermen, not the 400 plus people, crammed onto (and below the decks of) most of them.

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Helen Jones-Florio

 

Related post: Rare photographs document the rescue of hundred of migrant – images © MOAS_EU/Jason Florio