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saving lives Refugee Rescue Joby Fox founder urges public to dig deep as crisis persists

Joby, the co-founder of Refugee Rescue, says people have forgotten the plight of refugees, who are fleeing war and poverty.

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Joby Fox with a young refugee on the island of Lesbos during filming for True North: The Crossing

Joby Fox with a young refugee on the island of Lesbos during filming for True North: The Crossing

Joby Fox with a young refugee on the island of Lesbos during filming for True North: The Crossing

Charity worker Joby Fox is a man on a mission.

Having already been involved in the rescue of over 15,000 people, the Belfast man is calling on the people of Ireland, North and South, to dig deep and help him save the lives of women, children and men who risk their lives on the high seas, desperate for a better life.

Joby, the co-founder of Refugee Rescue, says people have forgotten the plight of refugees, who are fleeing war and poverty.

A world preoccupied with the pandemic has turned its back on the plight of terrified people taking to the Mediterranean waters, risking their own and their family's lives in the hope of a better life in Europe.

Putting their lives at risk on the perilous seas on a rubber dinghy seems a much better option for many who can afford the smugglers' fees, people traffickers who exploit their fears and desperation to get to Europe.

"This is about saving lives, nothing else, it is not political, it's about saving the life of a child, a family, people who desperately need all the help they can get. What is happening in Lesbos, to the people of Libya has fallen off the news, we want to change that too," Joby Fox told Sunday World.

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Mo Chara

Mo Chara

Mo Chara

Refugee Rescue was forced to suspend their operations last August. The operations on Lesbos were suspended due to far right-wing attacks on the humanitarian assets throughout several Greek islands. That and the ongoing pandemic forced them and others to halt their mission on the Greek island.

"We are delighted to be back in service. Rescue vessel Mo Chara will be deployed, once again, in the Central Mediterranean to continue saving lives. The boat is called Mo Chara, 'My Friend' in Irish, which is fitting because when we rescue people most say 'thank you my friend', for some it is all the English they know.

"It is great to feel a part of it. The people of Northern Ireland and the South have been unwavering in their support but I would like to call out again for funds to help us help more people."

Shockingly in 2021 alone, at least 615 people have drowned or gone missing in the Mediterranean, a statistic most people don't know. They are forgotten people.

The Sunday World has also learned that on April 22 up to 130 people were left to die by the authorities at sea off the coast of Libya, outlining the desperate need of the presence of civil and humanitarian rescue assets.

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Mo Chara

Mo Chara

Mo Chara

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This is why, following five years of providing lifesaving search and rescue, they are operating Mo Chara again as part of the Sea Eye 4 mission.

"This joint mission with the German search and rescue NGO Sea Eye marks the beginning of a new era for Mo Chara, and it signals our ambition as an organisation to establish once again a full-time presence in the Mediterranean." says Joby.

"In the first four days of our deployment with Sea-Eye 4 we have rescued 150 people."

Refugee Rescue was formed in 2015 in response to the unfolding refugee crisis on the Aegean Sea. During a five-year mission from the island of Lesbos, Mo Chara has assisted over 15,000 people who were brought to safety on their perilous journeys.

"Many more will need rescuing which is why we are hoping to expand, we can only do that through the generosity of others."

Joby revealed he has big plans to purchase a big ship to increase their ability to save more lives, some who are just babies clinging to their mothers and fathers as they fight for their lives in the cruel and brutal sea.

"The governments are turning their backs on the people which is just not good enough, having to pluck people out of the sea or off death boats, to save their lives because they have been forced to flee whatever nightmare they are running from is just not good enough.

"This is about human rights, we are a humanitarian organisation and we will continue to do everything we can.

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Mo Chara

Mo Chara

Mo Chara

"We have aspirations to get a big ship so we have started a funding drive, we will keep Mo Chara, but we hope to get a bigger vessel as soon as possible. For me getting involved was the shock of seeing people drowning fleeing the Syrian war, imagine how that feels? I couldn't walk away.

"That's why we started the whole thing up, to save lives. Mo Chara belongs to the people, I'm just grateful to be a small part of it, to be a custodian of it and hopefully with people's help we will become bigger and better, a bigger ship and bigger rewards.

"All our hard work is worthwhile, when we save people it is amazing but you never forget the ones who didn't make it. But we have saved thousands and we will save more. We just need help," Joby added.

Refugee Rescue has gained an international profile, and that expertise and the specialised know-how will now serve in partnership with the high-profile humanitarian organisation, Sea-Eye.

Sea-Eye operates two large search and rescue vessels in the Mediterranean, one named Alan Kurdi after the young child who was washed up lifeless on a beach in Greece in 2015.

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