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Press Release Geuzenpenning 2016

MOAS to receive Geuzen Medal 2016 

 

The Geuzen Medal for 2016 will be awarded to Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS). MOAS actively searches for boats carrying refugees who are in grave danger in the Mediterranean Sea. If the worst comes to the worst they save those on board under the motto ‘Every life matters’. In addition to the Mediterranean Sea, MOAS also sails in the Aegean Sea, between Turkey and Greece.MOAS is also active in the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea from where refugees and migrants attempt to reach Malaysia under extremely dangerous circumstances. 

 

This was announced January 7, by the Geuzenpenning Foundation. The award ceremony will be held on Monday, 14 March 2016 in the Grote Kerk (Great Church) of Vlaardingen. The Geuzen Medal is awarded as a tribute to people and organisations working for human rights and who oppose dictatorship, discrimination and racism.

 

The search and rescue organisation MOAS was established in 2013 by Christopher (USA) and Regina Catrambone (Italy). In 2006 they founded a company specialised in insurance and aid in high-risk areas. In 2008 they moved to Malta. Their company, the Tangiers Group, flourished and grew to become a multimillion-dollar company. Following the death of hundreds of refugees at sea in 2013 and the lack of European rapid reaction, Christopher and Regina Catrambone responded to a call from Pope Francis to do everything they could to prevent more of these kinds of humanitarian disasters from happening. An urgent appeal from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the UNHCR also encouraged MOAS to take action. The Catrambone couple have so far invested €8 million in their life-saving project.  

Martin Xuereb is the Director of MOAS. He was born in Malta, had an active military career and was Commander of the Armed Forces on Malta for many years. In an interview with Malta Today Xuereb said: “No one deserves to die at sea. When I say ‘everyone’ then I do not just mean migrants, refugees and asylum seekers. It concerns everyone, it doesn’t matter who you are and what your background is.”

 

In the months of August to October 2014, MOAS has saved approximately 3,000 men, women and children with the rescue ship Phoenix. Crowd funding has enabled MOAS to undertake new rescue operations between May and October 2015. This has resulted in the rescue of a further 5,500 people. According to MOAS, 90 per cent of the donations is spent directly on saving lives.

In total we have now, says MOAS in November 2015, saved 11,685 men, women and children from drowning. MOAS also assists the official Rescue Coordination Centre (RCC) body to support as many needy people as possible through issuing food, water, life-saving jackets and medicine.

MOAS is not the only organisation to assist refugees at sea, however, they are the first private rescue service organisation.

MOAS owns a 40-metre long ship, the Phoenix, two Schiebel Camcopters (drones) and two rubber speedboats. MOAS has twenty aid workers, safety specialists, medics and experienced sailors from various countries who have joined forces to help refugees.

MOAS also sails in the Aegean Sea, between Turkey and Greece. This crossing is mainly used by Syrians and Afghans. MOAS wants to deploy a new ship in these waters, the 51-metre Topaz Responder, with two fast rescue boats, the Aylan and Galip Kurdi. These boats have been named after two young Syrian children, 3 and 5 years of age, who died at sea along with their mother when their boat capsized.

The photo of Aylan, whose small body was washed up on the beach, shocked the whole world. But, warns MOAS, the death of the two brothers is unfortunately not unique; it still often happens that young children do not survive the flight attempt to Europe.

MOAS is also active in the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea following a new appeal from the UNHCR. According to the UNHCR, since 2014 1,100 people died at sea in this region.


Geuzen Medal

The Geuzen Medal has been awarded to various organisations and people since 1987. The Geuzen Medal is an initiative of the Geuzenpenning Foundation. This organisation was established by the former Dutch resistance fighters who were active in World War II. The Geuzen Medal is intended to honour and support today’s freedom fighters and human rights activists. The Chairman is Frans Weisglas, the former chairman of the Lower House.

The Geuzen Medal was previously awarded to people such as Václav Havel (1995), the Colombian politician Ingrid Betancourt (2004), the Syrian lawyer and human rights activist Haitham Maleh (2006), the Tunisian human rights lawyer Radhia Nasraoui (2013) and to organisations such as the International Campaign for Tibet (2005) and Human Rights Watch (2007). Last year the Geuzen Medal was awarded to Free Press Unlimited.

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