Maritime Search and Rescue: the Migration Emergency

In the 1990’s, the prolific author, journalist, and filmmaker Robert Young Pelton traveled throughout the so-called “World’s Most Dangerous Places” recounting the true dynamics of conflict areas, wars, and complex emergencies. With a special interest in emerging trends, Mr. Pelton paid close attention to jihadi movements, and recounted their emergence in illuminating analytical detail before they ultimately emerged as a central focus on the world geopolitical stage.

Today, Mr. Pelton is engaged in following a different trend, the mass movement of people from throughout Africa, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East that is coming to dominate intentional headlines. With intractable wars in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan, instability in Libya and sub-Saharan Africa, and the opportunity for migrants from throughout Eurasia and Africa people to start a better life, migration is becoming a dominant theme of the early 21st century.

A perilous component of the influx to Europe is an emergency taking place in the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas. According to the International Organization for Migration, as of April 8, 2016, over 172,000 people have arrived in Europe by sea in this calendar year alone. There have been over 700 tragic fatalities as migrants have undertaken extraordinarily dangerous maritime crossings to Greece, Italy, Cyprus, and Spain.

Mr. Pelton is serving as a Strategic Advisor to the Maltese-based NGO MOAS, or Migrant Offshore Aid Station. Founded by Christopher and Regina Catrambone in 2013, MOAS and its highly capable crew and staff has provided life saving maritime search and rescue operations in the Aegean, Mediterranean, and Andaman Seas to over 13,000 migrants.

In an interview with, Mr. Pelton describes the formation and current mission of MOAS, its capabilities, and operations. He describes the age-old challenges of conducting rescues on the high seas, as well as the integration of technologies such as drones and radar to assist with the incredible challenges migrants are facing on their journey. The integration of media into MOAS missions is bringing much-needed attention to the humanitarian emergency.

When asked what message to the international disaster management and humanitarian community Mr. Pelton would like to convey, he stated, “I think we are seeing the destruction of the idea of ‘city-states’ and the idea that you can build a moat to keep people out…People move. They are fluid. Our idea of setting up imaginary lines on maps does not necessarily create an obstacle for someone who wants to move to a new place, get a job, or start a business. And at the end of the day, we were all there once too. It’s very difficult to say them vs. us because we could be them. We need to think very carefully about how we deal with migration because there are ways to handle it which benefit the countries the migrants come in to.”

Please visit the MOAS web page for more information about their extraordinary work, and also check out the Migrant Report for the latest news on international migration, as well as Mr. Pelton’s site, [Image per UNHCR].

Also in this episode: The Pacific Islands face an under-reported cyclone threat that influences sustainability and even sovereignty; previous guests Kevin Hester and Paul Beckwith are interviewed along with me on Ep. 53 of Extinction Radio; Wolfgang Werminghausen’s outstanding interview with our Ep. 2 guest Jennifer Hynes; Paul Beckwith’s deep concern about the Great Barrier Reef; the Paleocene-Eocene thermal maximum Black Swan; and the very accomplished Sabine Mondestin’s Open World Toronto Film Festival is a great venue for aspiring humanitarian filmmakers.

This entry was posted in Africa, Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance, Middle East & North Africa, Uncategorized, War and Conflict and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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