AURELIUS Refugee Initiative supports the MOAS search and rescue mission in the Mediterranean again


AURELIUS Refugee Initiative supports the MOAS search and rescue mission in the Mediterranean again

  • AURELIUS Refugee Initiative funds life-saving drone operations
  • 117 people rescued at sea
  • Better search and rescue with drones

Munich, October 2016 - In the night of October 12/13, 2016, the Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS, working together with the Italian Red Cross managed to save the lives of 113 people. Hopes are fading for 17 missing people, including one baby. The completely overloaded boat with a total of 130 men, women, and children on board got into distress on the high seas during the night. Those fortunate enough to be rescued have the bravery of their volunteer rescuers, some good luck and state-of-the-art rescue technology in the form of drones to thank for their lives. Only a couple of hours passed between the call for help being received on the MOAS rescue ship the MY Phoenix, which happened to be cruising in the area, and the rubber dinghy being located by the Schiebel rescue drone. The operation would have been impossible without the modern equipment. 

Around a year ago, AURELIUS set up the AURELIUS Refugee Initiative with a view to preventing such tragedies and helping people fleeing violence and death, no matter what their religion, ethnicity, or nationality. The further donation of EUR 50,000 made by the organization has been used by MOAS to fund a 10-day deployment of the state-of-the-art Schiebel S-100 Camcopter rescue drone on board the MY Phoenix. Back in spring 2016, the AURELIUS Refugee Initiative had already donated EUR 150,000 to MOAS to cover the operating cost of the search-and-rescue mission in the Mediterranean Sea (excluding the ship charter costs). “For some time now, the Executive Board and staff of AURELIUS have been important supporters of MOAS and our humanitarian mission at sea,” says MOAS Director Pete Sweetnam. “Their generous contributions toward our deployments make it possible for us to carry out search-and-rescue operations at sea for all those people who are risking everything in their desperate search for a better future.” It costs a lot of money to deploy modern rescue drones. Not-for-profit aid organizations like MOAS depend upon private donors to fund their high acquisition and maintenance costs.

The use of modern drones makes it possible to locate migrant ships in distress over a radius of up to 180km. The unmanned aerial vehicles have a top speed in excess of 200km/h. They are capable of staying in the air for up to six hours at a time without interruption and can also scan the surface of the water at night. The pictures and concrete images showing the type, size, and condition of the boat together with the estimated number of people on board are transmitted by livestream. This enables both the Maritime Rescue Coordination Center in Rome and European marine units sailing locally under the EUNAVFOR Med mission known as Operation Sophia to be notified without delay. The rescue can then be optimally prepared long before the rescue ship actually arrives on the scene.