Cash floods in for refugee charity

Thinkstockphotos-154043475

​Malta based charity sees huge rise in donations 

4th September 2015 by Robert Armour 0 Comments

A charity which patrols the Aegean and Mediterranean in support of sea-borne refugees has witnessed a 10-fold increase in donations.

The Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) was set up by millionaire philantrhopists Christopher and Regina Catrambone in Malta and relies on donations to operate.

However, the charity said more than 2,000 individuals have donated to the charity in the 24 hours since pictures of three-year-old Aylan Kurdi, who drowned with his five-year-old brother and their mother, appeared on newspaper front pages across the globe.

It is now taking in €150,000 (£110,000) a day, with that total rising daily, where it’s previous highest total was €10,000 in one day.

MOAS director Martin Xuereb, a former commander of the armed forces in Malta, said: “We think that the surge in donations is a direct response from people seeing this picture, many people feel very angry about the situation and they want to act.

What I saw was a child in despair, his fist clenched, his eyes wide open when he died. I always think of that child - Martin Xuereb

“People are saying they don’t want to be bystanders anymore. We are increasingly understanding that behind every statistic, every number, there is a life, a life who has a mother, a father or a sibling, a grandparent.”

MOAS, which was set up by Maltese-based American philanthropist Christopher Catrambone and his Italian wife, Regina, owns a 40-metre expedition vessel as well as two search drones and two inflatable boats.

It has a joint team of rescuers and paramedics with the charity Médecins Sans Frontières, who assist vessels which have got into difficulty, usually on the route between Libya and the Italian island of Lampedusa or Sicily.

Xuereb said the death of Aylan had affected him personally.

“When I was working before MOAS, I was once there when workers opened a body bag, which I knew was a child, but I expected to see this angelic, sleeping face,” he recalled.

“But what I saw was a child in despair, his fist clenched, his eyes wide open when he died. I always think of that child, whenever I hear about the numbers who are dead.”

Meanwhile prime minister David Cameron is expected to announce plans to increase the number of refugees being allowed into the UK.

The extra refugees are expected to come from UN camps bordering Syria not from people already in Europe.

No specific figure has been agreed, but the prime minster previously said the UK would continue to take in "thousands".