Former prosecutor Gherardo Colombo, on the right, alongside volunteers from the ResQ - People Saving People association, which aims to conduct rescue operations for people in distress at sea. Milan, July 29, 2020 | Photo: ANSA/DUILIO PIAGGESI
Former prosecutor Gherardo Colombo, on the right, alongside volunteers from the ResQ - People Saving People association, which aims to conduct rescue operations for people in distress at sea. Milan, July 29, 2020 | Photo: ANSA/DUILIO PIAGGESI

A project named "ResQ-People Saving People" has been launched in Milan to rescue migrants in the Mediterranean. A team of professionals and volunteers will be carrying out rescue operations and collecting testimonies on what happens near Italy's coasts.

The project will make use of a 40-meter ship with 10 crew members and nine others including doctors, nurses, rescue workers, mediators, journalists, and photographers. ResQ-People Saving People will be crowdfunded.

The organizers say the project is ambitious, but in a few months the ResQ-People Saving People ship will be sailing the Mediterranean to save human lives. 

"The project aims to ensure the presence in the central Mediterranean of a new ship that is 100% Italian to rescue those at risk of drowning," a director of ResQ said. ''And bear witness to what is happening, in line with the non-negotiable humanitarian principles of impartiality, neutrality, humanity, and independence." The crew will collect testimonies on what is happening near Italian coasts.

Tired of seeing people die   

ResQ-People Saving People has recently been registered as a non-profit organization. It was founded in Milan by a group of friends that were ''tired of seeing thousands of people die in a desperate attempt to cross the Mediterranean'' and who, for this reason, decided to ''break the wall of indifference''. 

The association's honorary president is the former prosecutor of the 1990s Clean Hands judicial investigation into political corruption, Gherardo Colombo. Colombo said the idea was based on a simple idea: ''would I be happy if someone came to save me if I were drowning at sea? Yes, I would be happy.'' 

Colombo added that saving people at sea is also a matter of abiding by the Italian Constitution. 

Project to be crowdfunded and accept donations 

The project, meaning the purchase and equipping of the ship and its operations for one year, will cost 2.1 million euros. One million euros will be needed to buy the ship, prepare it, equip it, and operate it for the first three months, while the cost of training those onboard will be additional. The sum will be collected through donations on the www.resq.it website and through crowdfunding campaigns. 

When speaking at a press conference remotely, UNHCR High Commissioner Filippo Grandi lashed out at the "narrative of an invasion" of migrants in Italy and Europe. He said that the percentage of migrants arriving in Europe and the US is ''very low'' compared with that in other countries suffering a lack of resources. He added that the number of migrants arriving is "easily manageable" in wealthier countries. 

Grandi cited the example of Uganda, where the borders were recently opened to refugees from Congo. "I would like to applaud this initiative," Grandi added, referring to the association, "and I find it immoral that we are still discussing whether it is right to save people at risk of drowning at sea. It is simply an obligation."
 

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