accessibility & help

Red Cross launches emergency search and rescue appeal

19 October 2016

The British Red Cross is asking the public to help save thousands of lives by donating to our search and rescue operations.

Since August alone, two Red Cross rescue boats have already brought 5,400 people to safety in the Mediterranean. We are working in partnership with the independent charity Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS).

We are funding two rescue ships, the Responder and the Phoenix. But, as winter nears, our boats urgently need funds to continue operating.

Tragically over 3,600 people have drowned trying to reach Europe so far this year – a 30 per cent increase on the same period last year.

The vast majority of deaths have happened on the long and dangerous route from Libya to Italy – the area which our boats are now patrolling.

Horrors ‘we can’t imagine’

Our chief executive, Mike Adamson, 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.”

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 child was among them.

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

Donate now to save lives at sea.

  • In the event that we raise more money than is needed for the Search and Rescue operation in the Mediterranean, any surplus funds will be allocated to our Europe Refugee Crisis Appeal.