Crisis in the Mediterranean and Aegean: Funding Needed
A mother and her children find themselves alone in the water clinging to wreckage hundreds of miles off shore. Desperate to save her young family from the ravages of ethnic violence and war, she had embarked on a dangerous journey that seemed her only hope. Now, hope seems hard to come by. Suddenly the deathly quiet is broken by the sound of a motor and people speaking Swedish. A yellow boat appears, the children and mother are aboard and being cared for.
Hope is a lifeboat.
Over 1.2 million people have fled Middle East violence by sea in the last two years, according to the UN High Commission on Refugees. Thousands have died. Over 1,260 already this year.
What is less well known is that volunteer maritime rescue organizations have saved tens of thousands.
Overwhelmed government forces in the region have been augmented by volunteers in the region - Greece’s Hellenic Rescue Team and Malta’s Migrant Offshore Aid Station. Lifeboat services from Germany, Sweden, and Norway also have boats and crews working cooperatively with local forces. And all of this is being coordinated by the International Maritime Rescue Federation (IMRF), an organization that represents 125 maritime rescue services worldwide.
One particular focus of the IMRF is building and reinforcing volunteer capability in the area. By the end of this year, funding permitting, the goal is to be able to train sufficient local volunteers and equip them with eight additional rescue vessels.
In the United States, the Association for Rescue At Sea is a charity that raises funds to support the IMRF and volunteer maritime rescue organizations worldwide. US citizens and organizations can make tax-efficient donations to help combat the crisis in the Mediterranean and Aegean by going to http://www.afras.org/donation.html or calling +1-920-854-5253.
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