boy on the deck on the Responder

“I lost my mother in 2009 when I was 10,” says a young man from Gambia, “then my father in 2014.”

“I have five younger brothers and sisters so I have to take care of them.

“I wanted to work the land but after my father died, other family members took our farm. I left school and worked as a goat herd. But it’s hard.

“When my uncle offered to pay for me to go to Europe, I thought it’s a good idea. But first I had to go from my home in Gambia to Libya.

“In Libya there’s no peace. You work for no pay. People are thrown into a small space with no window, no food. I was lucky that I didn’t go into prison. If I had known Libya was like that, maybe I wouldn’t have gone.

“On the boat, I thought I would die. The boat started leaking after a few minutes, and we took off our shirts to mop up the water and wring it out over the side. People were crying and screaming and praying. I was scared.

“Now it’s OK. I want to go to Europe, go to school, get a job and send money back to my brothers and sisters.”

Saving lives at sea

Already this year, over 3,000 people have drowned in the southern Mediterranean.

Under a partnership between the Red Cross and Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS), the Responder, along with its sister craft, the Phoenix, have been patrolling these perilous waters.

Since August this year alone, our boats have brought over 5,400 people to safety.

As well as search and rescue, these ships are providing first aid, medical care, food, water, dry clothes and blankets to people in desperate need.

Photos by Kenny Karpov/MOAS.