Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Migrant Offshore Aid Station

Rescue boats for MOAS: migrant offshore aid station. And White Helmet?

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Rouba Mhaissen

Many highlights of the past few days but perhaps one of my main is meeting two people.

Two people whose meeting meant to me more than Cameron or the King of Kuwait or Queen Rania or any other president or delegate or minister that I talked to in the past few days….

The first is a British man who helped train (and fund) a bunch of young men and women Heros to become something that we now call the While Helmets: Syrians saving Thousands of Syrians from under shelled buildings. (Turned out this organization made it a habit to fabricate videos for the colonial powers)

The second is meeting an inspiring Italian woman Regina, who along with her American husband, gave up ALL their fortune of 10 million dollars (of which is the university and life fund they had saved up for their only 17 years old daughter) to buy rescue boats (MOAS: migrant offshore aid station).

Not only have they rescued thousands of lives, but they also did it themselves. They both now work on this, always on-call all-night.

She told me stories that shook me to my core. She showed me pictures that will for ever be in my heart. She spoke to me of her faith. And of how every human is a human.

I asked her, don’t you miss your old lifestyle?

She said I used to fly in my private jet, today I fly in economy and reach the same destination. We, humans, always want more. But happiness is in giving.

Utterly inspired. Thank you, Regina. Thank you, for every human who is in touch with the core! I am humbled to have met you!

Refugee death toll crossing the sea passes 1,073 in record 2017

Why charities attacked for conducting Mediterranean rescues?

NGOs are being blamed for our presence, when authorities should be blamed for their absence’

Lizzie Dearden@lizziedearden

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has recorded at least 1,073 people dead or missing on the treacherous passage between Libya and Italy – a grim benchmark that was not reached until the end of May last year.

At least 150 are children, Unicef said, while warning that the real figure is likely to be far higher because unaccompanied minors’ deaths frequently go unreported.

Such is the danger of death that asylum seekers embarking on flimsy dinghies have been known to write phone numbers in marker pen on life jackets, so loved ones can be notified if their body is recovered.

More than 8,300 migrants were rescued over the Easter weekend alone, with some of those taken to safety telling aid workers around 100 of their fellow passengers had died during the voyage.

Many dinghies have capsized, seeing up to 170 people crammed on board drown, while others have been found dead in boats after being suffocated, dying of hypothermia or starving while drifting at sea.

Smugglers are pushing more and more boats into the Mediterranean as the weather improves and amid rumours of a crackdown by the Libyan coastguard, which is being bolstered by Italian funding and equipment.

The unprecedented crisis has sparked intervention by several non-governmental organisations (NGOs), who have launched their own rescue ships equipped with medical staff and supplies to bolster efforts by the EU’s Operation Sophia.

Initially welcomed by European authorities, their growing role in the Mediterranean has been met with increasing suspicion by right-wing politicians and groups now accusing them of “colluding” with smugglers.

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), whose staff work on two rescue ships, dismissed the claims as “baseless”.

Stefano Argenziano, the group’s operations manager for migration, said it rejects any accusation of cooperation with ruthless Libyan smugglers, who have turned a humanitarian crisis into a lucrative business helping fuel the country’s ongoing war.

“It’s a ludicrous accusation that’s diverting attention from the real problem,” he told The Independent.

“The real problem is that people are dying. There’s a gap in assistance and we’re starting to wonder whether this is part of a deliberate plan to step the migration flow…a deadly deterrent.”

Mr Argenziano said interventions by EU assets, excepting the Italian coastguard, were often “very little and very late” and condemned the continent’s refusal to provide other routes to safety.

“Search and rescue is not the problem, but it is not the solution either,” he added.

“It is a necessity to save lives unless politicians can produce a safe and legal alternative.”

Following the closure of the refugee route over the Aegean Sea using the controversial EU-Turkey deal last year, cooperation has been ramping up with the fragile Libyan Government of National Accord.

Italy signed an agreement backed by the EU to reduce boat crossings over the Central Mediterranean in February but it was later suspended by the justice ministry in Tripoli and remains in limbo.

Rome agreed to supply the country’s coastguard, which is itself accused of killing and abusing migrants, with 10 new boats alongside millions of euros in funding for migration initiatives.

International organisations believe the ultimate aim – transferring responsibility for rescues to Libya and holding migrants in detention centres there – is not viable amid the ongoing conflict and the widespread enslavement, capture, torture and extortion of asylum seekers.

Rob MacGillivray, the director of Save the Children’s search and rescue programme, said pushing boats back to shore from international waters would be illegal.

“It’s not going to stop crossings and even if it did, all that would happen and the routes would shift to Algeria, Tunisia or Egypt for example,” he added, rejecting accusations of NGOs colluding with smugglers.

“Safety is not the smugglers’ first priority and they will use whatever floats to send people across the Mediterranean.

“If search and rescue providers were to finish work tomorrow, would the people smugglers just fade into the background?”

In 2015, operations were mainly undertaken by Italian law-enforcement, EUNAVFOR Med or Frontex vessels.

NGO vessels were involved in less than 5% of incidents.

But they are now deployed to respond to around half of missions by the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre in Rome, which also draws on military, coastguard and commercial ships.

A cursory internet search reveals countless blogs accusing NGOs of colluding in illegal people smuggling, while numerous conspiracy theories have arisen over what far-right commentators label the “invasion of Europe”.

The latest politician to push for the Central Mediterranean route to be closed is Wolfgang Sobotka, the Austrian interior minister.

“A rescue in the open sea cannot be a ticket to Europe, because it hands organised traffickers every argument to persuade people to escape for economic reasons,” he told Germany’s DPA news agency.

“[Stopping crossings] is the only way to end the tragic and senseless deaths in the Mediterranean.”

Mr Sobotoka, from the right-wing Austrian People’s Party, claimed his country could put up borders in the event of any influx, saying the numbers seen in 2015 “must not be repeated”.

The government in Vienna is one of several to have implemented a limit on asylum seekers, with calls to halve the current annual cap of 17,000.

In Italy, the chief prosecutor in the Sicilian city of Catania has formed a task force on claims of links between NGOs and smugglers.

Carmelo Zuccaro admitted he had no proof and the public prosecutor decided not to investigate, but a fact finding mission was launched by the Italian parliament.

Frontex, the EU border agency, has also raised concern over smugglers’ alleged use of rescue vessels.

A confidential report leaked in December claimed migrants were given “clear indications before departure on the precise direction to be followed in order to reach the NGOs’ boats” and accused charities of warning rescued asylum seekers not to cooperate with Italian authorities.

Another report released by Frontex in February claimed search and rescue operations near the Libyan coast “unintentionally help criminals achieve their objectives at minimum cost, strengthen their business model by increasing the chances of success”.

It recognised that rescues were needed to comply with international legal obligations and said safe and legal routes were needed for refugees, but alleged sailing close to Libyan territorial waters acted as a “pull factor”.

The Malta-based charity Moas (Migrant Offshore Aid Station) pointed out that boat crossings increased even when Italy stopped its Mare Nostrum operation, while a recent Oxford University study found rescues have “little or no effect on the number of arrivals”.

A representative said migrants were being “increasingly used by politicians in Europe to fuel the rise of nationalism”, adding: “The migration phenomenon is not going away, and focusing only on patrolling the EU’s borders is definitely not the solution.”

With almost 37,000 asylum seekers arriving in Italy so far this year, mainly from Guinea, Nigeria and other African nations, the crisis shows no sign of slowing.

Sophie Beau, the co-founder of rescue charity SOS Mediterranée, said NGOs were being forced to act by the “failure of European states”, who should be increasing capacity themselves.

“NGOs are being blamed for our presence, when authorities should be blamed for their absence,” she added.

“There’s a humanitarian tragedy unfolding in front of our eyes at the door of Europe and we cannot just remain blind.”

Note: France wanted to depose Kaddafi because he declined to purchase French weapons: Italy is taking care of the problems that France  generated.  The USA got hold of $7 billion of gold in Libya central bank

Syria refused to have Qatar gas pipeline ending in Turkey instead of Syrian ports: Syria calamity is the problem of everyone, except Qatar…

And most horror stories in the Middle-East are of these kinds of irrational non-patient negotiations

Canadian Avaaz Kicking asses?  European Migration Agenda

I’m sorry to use crude language, but we Canadians sometimes do that in the best spirit when we get excited

Evidence you say?

We helped win the first ever European Migration Agenda

EU migrants

After thousands of asylum seekers drowned in the Mediterranean earlier this year, the European Commission finally proposed a Migration Agenda to get shared responsibility across the continent for rescue, resettlement and relocation of refugees, and we sprung into action to support the initiative:

  • First, we raised and granted $500,000 to the most effective private rescue mission in the Mediterranean, the Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS), which has saved 7,000 lives this year. We also supported a local organization that assists unaccompanied refugee children at risk of trafficking, and Greek Avaaz members even volunteered to help them on the ground.
  • Then we used funds to run an Avaaz aid mission to the Greek islands where Syrian families arrive every day on rickety boats, delivering bedding and health kits for thousands. Check out Avaazer Mike Baillie’s inspiring blog.
  • At the same time, we launched a European volunteer network for refugees. Over 1,600 Avaazers have volunteered to assist in programmes across the continent. In Greece, Malta, and Italy, they are helping families coming off the boats with integration. In Germany and France, Avaaz members are opening their homes to refugees, and in the UK they are supporting Syrians to resettle.
  • We also did the lobbying — 450,000 EU Avaaz members called for urgent action, and the petition was delivered to all EU Heads of State and the EU Commissioner on migration. Then 65,000 of us sent personal messages to Ministers, and our campaign got attention at the highest level of government. A senior adviser to President Juncker wrote thanking us for our ‘beautiful initiative’.
  • When after weeks of stalling, we found out Poland, Austria and Spain were blocking a deal, we flooded their Ministries with phone calls, and Avaaz volunteers made a video of Syrians appealing directly to the Spanish Minister for refuge, which exploded all over the media.

Together we showed leaders that the European public wants to help vulnerable people fleeing war, and we countered the pervading xenophobic narrative with acts of compassion. Now a deal has been done — the EU has tripled the search and rescue budget for the Mediterranean, and will offer sanctuary to more than 50,000 people escaping war. This is a first step, but the magnitude of this humanitarian crisis requires us to keep pushing leaders to increase safe routes into Europe as the best way to help these desperate families and stop illegal trafficking.

We helped feed thousands of Syrians during the holy month of Ramadan

ramadan meals
ramadan gas

This Ramadan, our community across the Middle East, North Africa, and South East Asia donated over $25,000 for the Ramadan campaign. Support was given to the Development and Regeneration Association, based in Lebanon, and Karam Foundation based in the US and with an extensive network inside Syria.

Through these two incredible organizations, our community helped make the following possible:

  • Iftar for thousands of Syrians through Ramadan Kitchens and food baskets in Bekaa, Salah el Din, Moadamieh and Ghouta. In Moadamieh and Ghouta alone, we helped feed over 18,000 people for the entire month of Ramadan!
  • 2400 meals for orphans in Aleppo
  • Cooking gas for over 600 families in Aleppo
  • 40 tonnes of flour which provided over 60,000 packages of bread in Idlib

Some kids even received new Eid clothes thanks to our community. Click here to see a video from Karam, and here to see photos from Bekaa.

We organised a letter from leading Economists to warn Chancellor Merkel against Greek Austerity

Greek austerity

When the Greek people said no to more austerity measures in a referendum and EU leaders threatened to kick Greece out of the Euro, Avaaz coordinated an open letter to Merkel from 5 leading economists including Thomas Piketty and Jeffrey Sachs on the back of a 530,000-strong Avaaz Europe petition. The letter was all over the German media and published across the world. It had such a strong impact that the German Finance Minister got his chief economist to write a response in a major newspaper, and the debate is now heating up. We’ll keep ramping up actions to shift the prevailing economic view in Germany as this has the most promise to liberate Greece from more failed and crushing austerity.

We got Benetton to pay victims of the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh

Benetton Victory
Benetton Delivery

After two years of flat-out refusal, we got Benetton to reverse their position. Here’s how we did it:

  • We built and delivered a one-million-strong petition to Benetton.
  • We launched a huge social media storm, and when they hid our posts, we ramped them up.
  • We mobilised billboards outside Benetton’s Headquarters for days until the police came to stop us. Then our Italian Counsel got on the phone with the police, and they left us alone.
  • We got influential thought leaders to engage directly with the CEO of Benetton.
  • We issued a heartfelt appeal to Benetton staff through targeted ads on Facebook.
  • And finally, we engaged in personal and constructive negotiations with company executives.

Benetton responded by supporting the scheme, and even thanked Avaaz for our ‘important and positive role in the process’! Now, the scheme is fully funded and workers and their families will receive full payment. This success story could change the game for workers’ rights everywhere.

We raised a whopping $2.6 million for the victims of the Nepal earthquake

Nepal earthquake

When we heard of the devastation from this mega earthquake, we immediately jumped in and cut through bureaucratic hurdles to get aid to those most in need. By partnering with over a dozen of the best local relief efforts, the shelter, food, and medical supplies that our community funded were often the first to reach devastated villages. Funds raised by us are now rebuilding schools and crucial health facilities in the hardest hit regions, and are bringing hope to countless lives. Abari, one of the amazing organisations building schools and houses, sent their gratitude: “While the buildings were still crumbling from the aftershocks in Nepal, Avaaz spoke to us, understood the magnitude of the problem, and arranged the funds – all in less than 24 hours. The way they make decisions and take action is mind-blowing.”

We helped push the G7 of world polluters to commit to get off fossil fuels forever

G7 climate heroes

After decades of polluting and feet-dragging to move to the only viable solution — a total shift to clean energy — the G7 amazingly set a long-term goal to get completely off fossil fuels. Our community has been pushing for this for 2 years by:

  • spearheading the gigantic, momentum-changing, 700,000-strong climate march last year;
  • building a 2.7 million person petition for 100% clean energy delivered to dozens of key leaders;
  • coordinating scores of rallies, high-level lobbying meetings, opinion polls, and ad campaigns across the world, all funded by our community;
  • and leading a 3-month all-out push for the G7 summit leadership, especially directed at German Chancellor Angela Merkel, to put this on the agenda and agree to this goal.

Click here to see in detail how we helped get this incredible victory.

We gave over $2.5 million to stop Ebola, and it is almost defeated!

Ebola news

This is a big deal. This monster could have killed millions — it threatened the whole world. But the world came together to stop it, and Liberia was recently declared Ebola-free! What did we do?

  • Our community donated $2.5 million to the best aid operations working on the front line. It was the speed and nimbleness of our funds that made them life-saving. Partners in Health says:We are so grateful for your support, and for the flexibility you provided us in terms of use of the funds. This flexibility was critical.”
  • Over 4000 of us offered to go to West Africa to use our skills to assist in the fight. Avaaz volunteers played critical roles on the ground — from combating patient-doctor transmission in Ebola Treatment Centers, to building the facilities themselves.

The fact that Ebola is defeated in Liberia and has significantly declined in neighbouring countries is a huge victory for humanity, and I’m so proud of our community for showing that people everywhere are willing to risk everything to help others on the other side of the planet in times of crisis. What’s now clearer than ever is that investment in public health in this region is crucial.

We pushed Barclays to divest from an Israeli Defense Company


After the horrific Gaza attacks last summer, Avaaz launched the biggest global divestment campaign ever, calling on major companies to cut ties with operations and companies engaged in the illegal occupation and repression of Palestinians. Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and Russell Brand joined our call, and other groups called for the bank to act. Avaaz staff then met with Barclays to drive home the importance of divesting from Elbit Systems weapons company. We have now been informed that Barclays has no beneficial ownership of any shares in Elbit Systems in any capacity, nor does it hold any shares in nominee for clients. Barclays has also confirmed that it is not recommending Elbit Systems shares to clients via any trading platforms. Victory!
We are still pushing to get other companies financing the occupation of Palestine to withdraw and respect international law.

We helped finally get justice for Kenyan rape survivor, Liz

Justice for Liz

After a 16-year-old Kenyan girl told the police she was raped by six men who then threw her unconscious body down a 6-meter toilet pit, they just had the criminals mow their station lawn, and then let them free! When our community found out, we responded with a mega global outcry, and we have continued to ramp up the pressure:

  • We delivered the petition to top political and justice officials.
  • We bombarded Kenyan police and politicians on social media.
  • We sent an investigator to the scene to help uncover the crime.
  • And we teamed up with amazing Kenyan organisations to hold a massive march to get a Special Prosecutor involved to take the case to court.

Finally, nearly two years later, a judge sentenced three of the rapists to 15 years in jail. Terry Kunina, one of the women leaders in Kenya, said: “The Avaaz campaign put this case on the map and were it not for the worldwide recognition of the situation that Liz was facing, I am convinced that the case would not be where it is today. Liz now stands a chance at a better life.”

Now Kenyan officials know the world is watching and will hold them responsible for abuse and impunity.

On top of all these incredible wins, Avaaz has grown large enough to set up 18 national teams, so the number and impact of our national campaigning is skyrocketing from Germany to Brazil, from South Africa to Russia.

All of this is made possible by the growing engagement of all of us in this incredible community — from continuing to take action, to bringing our friends in, to donating small amounts of money and time — we are creating a magical and powerful collective force.

There’s a lot of scary stuff going on in the world, but let’s take a moment to give ourselves some love. We’re coming together in our millions, week after week, and it is having impact on some of the most complex issues of our time.





March 2023

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