‘I was wearing a white protective suit and had my cameras; I looked like a spaceman. I shook their hands and tried to make eye contact, then I climbed on to the engine cover. This is maybe a quarter of those on board. It was only when there was a scuffle that I realised there were people under the decks. I looked down into a black hole, and you could just see people sat on each other’s laps. They were calling: “Please get us out, it’s so hot, we’re suffocating.” It was like the old pictures you see of slave ships. They’d been like that for 14 hours… .’ Jason Florio – read the full interview here
“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.
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.