Search and rescue

Our sole mission is to save the lives of people, particularly children, who are escaping violence, persecution and extreme poverty. We save people from drowning and if we stopped, the death toll would only increase further.
We discovered that the fuel was leaking into the flimsy boat, which had taken on water because it could not withstand the weight of the 120-plus people crammed into it. By the time we arrived, the toxic mixture had spread everywhere, causing the most horrific chemical burns. In many cases, people's skin had come off and they had raw red wounds. Among these casualties were two men and two women - including the baby's mother - who had already perished.
Until the EU provides safe and legal routes for those seeking safer futures, people - including children like Tarek - will continue to risk their lives to reach the sanctuary of Europe. The 300 people on board the Vos Hestia will be far from the last, and the Mediterranean will continue to be a mass unmarked grave for children.
As we approached the scene, I could see it was serious, with crowds of people gathering around. When we reached her, I went into auto-pilot. She was the same age as me - and it hit home that these were life or death situations for real people that I would be involved in.
The number of people who died trying to reach Europe by crossing the Mediterranean has reached an all-time high and is becoming comparable to what Médecins Sans Frontières is used to seeing in warzones, with the UN Migration Agency recording at least 5,079 deaths last year.
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