Cartier Philanthropy - Mitigating the loss of human life at sea

Mitigating the loss of human life at sea


The Mediterranean is the world’s deadliest maritime migration route today. People flee homelands torn apart by war, violence and poverty. Their journeys are increasingly perilous and the death toll is constantly rising. Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) - a Malta-based humanitarian organization - rescue people at sea, mitigate the loss of human life, reduce suffering and ensure survivors arrive safely in port.

April-December 2017
Focus area
Emergency Response
Mediterranean sea


The Mediterranean has become the world’s deadliest maritime migration route, with death tolls constantly rising, despite the falling numbers of people making the journey. The International Organisation of Migration (IOM) reports 3,279 deaths in 2014, 3,777 in 2015 and 5,083 in 2016, while the UN Refugee agency states that 2016 was the deadliest year for migrants trying to reach Europe. Moreover, the real number of deaths is likely to be even higher because many drownings go undocumented.
People flee homelands torn apart by war, violence and poverty. Their journeys are increasingly dangerous in overcrowded wooden fishing boats and flimsy inflatable rafts that often do not last the journey.



Migrant Offshore Aid Station’s mission is to search for and rescue people in distress, mitigating the loss of human life at sea. Launched in 2014, this Malta-based humanitarian organization operates with fully-equipped and trained crews aboard its vessel the M.Y. Phoenix and aerial assets. It collaborates with specialist organizations to provide post-rescue care on board.

Over 30,000 people have been rescued and assisted since its inception.

Working in close coordination with the International Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre based in Rome, MOAS will from April to December:

  • maintain a presence in the Central Mediterranean, searching for vessels in distress,
  • conduct rescue operations,
  • provide post-rescue assistance to people on board and coordinate medical evacuations, and
  • disembark survivors into the care of land based follow-up services within the legal European maritime framework of the region.

Expected results

Based on past figures, MOAS estimates that it will reach approximately 18,000 individuals.

Long-term strategy

The programme is designed to be highly flexible so as to ensure its operations meet the needs of those who feel compelled to attempt the sea crossing.