accessibility & help

British Red Cross launches urgent appeal to continue funding lifesaving operations in Mediterranean

19 October 2016

The British Red Cross has today asked the public to help save thousands of lives by donating to their search and rescue operations.

The Red Cross has already helped over 5,400 people get to safety since August this year. However the Responder rescue boat, in partnership with independent charity Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS), urgently needs funds to continue operating.

Tragically over 3,500 people have drowned trying to reach Europe this year alone – that’s 13 people every single day. The vast majority of deaths have happened on the long and dangerous route from Libya to Italy, the area which the boat is now patrolling. Red Cross workers on board have recovered 10 people from the sea, who heartbreakingly did not survive the journey. In the last week alone, 17 people have been reported as missing during Red Cross operations; devastatingly a mother told rescuers that her three-year-old baby was among them.

Five Red Cross doctors, nurses and other staff are on board providing post-rescue support including first aid, medical care, food, dry clothes, blankets and toiletries.

Mike Adamson, Chief Executive, British Red Cross, said:

“We are calling on the British public’s generosity to help us urgently raise funds - we cannot stand by and watch while people drown. The Red Cross is the only organisation present along the entire migratory route. We have seen first-hand the horrors people endure just to get somewhere safe.

“Many of those arriving on the shores of Europe are fleeing conflict, violence, persecution and other extreme hardship, having survived horrific journeys that we can’t even begin to imagine. This is a humanitarian crisis which will not end until Europe’s politicians are able to offer more legal routes for refugees to reach a place of safety. Until then, all we can do is save people from a truly horrific and terrifying death.”


To donate to the British Red Cross Search and Rescue Appeal  please visit or call 0300 023 0819.


Notes to editors

Spokespeople in Italy and on board the Responder are available, please contact:

Teresa Goncalves, Media Relations Officer, British Red Cross

Email: l Tel: +44 (0)207 877 7618 l Twitter: @tregoncalves


The British Red Cross helps people in crisis, whoever and wherever they are. We are part of a global voluntary network, responding to conflicts, natural disasters and individual emergencies. We enable vulnerable people in the UK and abroad to prepare for and withstand emergencies in their own communities. And when the crisis is over, we help them to recover and move on with their lives.