As a response to the international humanitarian crisis of more than 3,300 people drowning in 2015, the Boat Refugee Foundation sailed the international waters between Libya and Italy with a rescue ship for six weeks in 2016. In this period, we rescued more than 1,500 children and adults from drowning in the sea.
During our rescue mission, we strictly operated on behalf of the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) in Rome – the government agency coordinating the rescue missions. It is a legal requirement and part of good seamanship to offer help to people in need at sea. Not helping is not an option. We are aware of the rumors about possible contacts and illegal transports between refugees and the ships of NGOs. However, since we operated our rescue missions strictly through the MRCC, we were not confronted with this type of contacts.
Starting in 2017, our mission focus will be on professionalizing our medical and psychosocial aid in the refugee camps on Samos and Lesbos. Therefore, we will not organize rescue operations on the Mediterranean Sea but instead provide essential aid at the refugee camps. Throughout the course of 2017, we will continuously evaluate the aid that is needed for boat refugees and if necessary, we will consider to relaunch a rescue operation mission again together with the MRCC.