“Twenty thousand men, women, and children are estimated to have lost their lives in the past two decades, while trying to cross the Mediterranean in search of a better life. The bulk of the would-be migrants are refugees escaping violence, persecution and hardship from places as far off as Eritrea, Somalia, and more recently Syria,” according to MOAS Director, Brigadier (Ret’d) Martin Xuereb.
“The crossings to Europe are organised by criminal gangs operating largely from Libya. Migrants are placed on rickety vessels with very few resources, in the hope they will be rescued by authorities before they dehydrate or drown.
“In October 2013 two vessels packed with migrants capsized off the coast of the Italian island of Lampedusa, adding at least 400 people to the death toll. This incident prompted us to see what we could do to improve the situation and avoid further catastrophes.
“UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has called on the public to ‘take action to prevent such tragedies in the future.’ That’s what we are doing.”
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