The charity is launching a new appeal to help raise urgently needed funds, which will cover the cost of the vessel’s operation for the next 15 months.
Save the Children has worked at Italian ports for more than eight years, helping to protect children when they arrive on land, and we believe the urgency of the current situation requires us to launch a search-and-rescue operation.
The aid agency will oversee humanitarian operations on the vessel and provide specialist staff including a team leader, cultural mediators, child protection, health and logistics staff. The Italian Coast Guard, which is the organisation that coordinates all the search-and-rescue operations at sea in that area, will direct the vessel towards the boats with refugees and migrants that need help.
The Coast Guard has said it greatly appreciates the necessary contribution to search-and-rescue operations offered by aid agencies. In a recent meeting with representatives of aid organisations that help with the rescue of migrants, the Coast Guard said: "We share a common goal: to save lives at sea."
Save the Children New Zealand CEO, Heather Hayden, said: “Children are children, first and foremost. Whatever they are fleeing from, they have the right to be safe. We have an obligation to protect children and their families, whether here in Europe already, or during their dangerous and deadly journey.
“The root causes are complex and many, but our response is simple: we must stop children drowning. European states must support Italy with search-and-rescue operations. Saving lives – not border control – should be everyone’s priority. The Mediterranean Sea cannot continue to be a mass unmarked grave for children.
“We have taken this decision to intervene at sea because we are convinced that, despite the extraordinary work already done by authorities as well as aid agencies, our initiative will make a valuable contribution to search-and-rescue operations in order to save lives.”