Christopher Catrambone and his wife Regina Catrambone were on a cruise on their private yacht when they came across floating jackets. They knew immediately that these jackets once belonged to immigrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea to get to Europe. Although most people in their position would just turn the other way, they couldn’t shake the feeling.
According to Amnesty International, last year 218,000 migrants tried to escape and 3,500 drowned, making it “the deadliest sea crossing in the world.” Amnesty International said the rate of those crossings are 50 per cent higher than last year and hundreds have already drowned this year. The cause of drowning is due to impractical makeshift boats that are often over packed, causing the boats to sink.
“Many of these people are fleeing war, persecution and totalitarian regimes,” said Federico Soda, the IOM’s head of Italian operations.
Refugees used to attempt crossings only in warmer months, but now are growing desperate and leaving at times when the sea is extremely dangerous. As a result, more ill-equipped boats are journeying across the Mediterranean, leading to a sharp rise in migrant deaths.
Christopher Catrambone invested $8 million to buy a 40-metre-long rescue boat, two drones, hired a 20-person crew including sailors, rescuers, doctors, and paramedics to save those stranded at sea! Their vessel named “Phoenix” will cruise under the Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS), an organization based in Malta that saves lives at sea. The vessel operates between Italy and Libya.
In their first mission, they rescued 271 people including over 100 women and children. In just 60 days, Catrambone and his crew saved 3,000 lives.
In a NPR article Catrambone said, “Thousands of people are dying. As we stand here we just received news that 10 more migrants died.” No European country has a search-and-rescue operation fully dedicated to saving migrants at sea, according to Catrambone. Italy abandoned their search-and-rescue mission in 2014 due to EU members saying they were unable to fund it
The Godfruits take-away: Compassionate God, make your loving presence felt to refugees, torn from home, family and everything familiar. Warm, especially, the hearts of the young, the old, and the most vulnerable among them. Help them know that you accompany them as you accompanied Jesus, Mary, and Joseph in their exile to Egypt. Lead refugees to a new home and a new hope, as you led the Holy Family to their new home in Nazareth. Open our hearts to receive them as our sisters and brothers in whose face we see your son, Jesus. Thank you for working in the heart of Christopher Catrambone, may you continue to bless him. Amen.