Professional search and rescue charity Migrant Offshore Aid Station (Moas) will be enhancing its life-saving efforts in the central Mediterranean when it launches its third season on Monday, deploying two ships and two drones.

The drones will expand their patrolling area to cover what is known as the ‘dead zone’ - the fatal few miles from the Libyan shore.

The 40-metre Phoenix, which has just returned from her mission in South East Asia, and the 52-metre Responder, a new offshore emergency response and recovery vessel, that has arrived from the Aegean after saving almost 2000 refugees, will work in concert with the two S-100 Schiebel Camcopters to cover huge swathes of Mediterranean waters.

“The summer of 2016 will be a defining year for Europe, Libya and the hundreds of thousands of desperate people who will be forced onto the sea to seek safety” founder Christopher Catrambone said.

“Having drones on board the Phoenix will allow Moas to be on station in the most deadly part of the journey, the stretch of sea a few nautical miles off the coast of Libya that kills thousands of people, many of whom are buried in unmarked graves.”

Moas, which began as a specialised search and rescue NGO in 2014 has so far saved more than 13,000 lives.

“I am deeply saddened that people are still dying in such horrible conditions. Last week, 45 bodies arrived in my home town Reggio Calabria. The majority were women and children. We must not become desensitised by this humanitarian catastrophe,” Moas co-founder Regina Catrambone said.

“Moas need the generous support of public donors to keep saving lives. We all have the moral responsibility to end this. Only together we can make a difference,” she said.

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