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Catholic family launches new rescue mission to save migrants

Christopher, centre, and Regina Catrambone, left, and their daughter Maria Luisa (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

A Catholic couple who established a charity to save migrants drowning at sea last year, are to launch a new rescue mission in the Aegean Sea.

The Migrant Offshore Aid Station, (MOAS) founded by Regina and Christopher Catrambone, with the help of their daughter Maria Luisa, has launched the new rescuse mission to help thousands of primarily Syrian refugees who continue to travel every week from Turkey to Greece in unsafe vessels.

MOAS will position the 51-meter Topaz Responder, a custom-made emergency response vessel in Greek territorial waters to act as a fast response and patrol search and vessel.

The Topaz Responder will host two high-speed rescue vessels on board capable of being launched rapidly or kept on patrol.

The two rescue boats will be named Aylan and Galip, in honour of the Kurdi brothers whose deaths shocked the world in September.

Christopher Catrambone, who founded MOAS together with his wife Regina Catrambone, said: “We are expanding thanks to the overwhelming support we have received from all over the world in the past months. We now plan to have a presence in all three major migrant crossing routes. Each life we save is a testament to everybody who has donated to turn MOAS into the global NGO it is today.”

The couple, who are in their 30s, first thought about setting up the operation in 2013 when they were sailing in the Mediterranean on a yacht, and they saw a winter coat floating around the water.

They realised that it probably belonged to one of the thousands of migrants who cross the Mediterranean trying to get to Europe.

They felt called to decisive action after they saw Pope Francis on TV, calling on entrepreneurs to help those in need.

Last year the BBC reported that the family had saved 3,000 men, women and children facing a perilous crossing, using their on personal savings to fund the initial project.