Wednesday, March 25, 2015
ImmigrationProf has reported in the past about the death of migrants en route to Europe (as well as those seeking to cross the southern border into the United States). NPR offers the latest on this worldwide humanitarian story.
Christopher Catrambone, a businessman from Lake Charles, Louisiana, and his Italian wife Regina invested about $8 million of their money to buy a ship and hire a crew to save lives on the Mediterranean Sea. Record numbers of people from the Middle East and Africa are crossing waters to try to get to Europe. And human rights groups say European countries don't do enough to rescue them when they run into trouble at sea.
The millionaire husband-and-wife team decided to take on the task during a yacht cruise in the Mediterranean.The catalyst came when Regina saw a jacket in the water during the cruise. She asked about it and was told it might belong to a dead migrant who was trying to find safety in Europe. And that was that. They founded the Migrant Offshore Aid Station, which began operations last year. "We're the only game in town at the moment," Christopher Catrambone says.
In just 60 days, they saved about 3,000 of migrants crossing the sea in rickety wooden boats or dinghies. They then coordinated with Italy and Malta in bringing the migrants to shore.
Last year, a record of about 218,000 people made this journey. Some 3,500 drowned. The numbers are growing. Amnesty International says rates of those crossing are 50 percent higher than last year and hundreds have drowned already this year.