Each year, thousands of people – many of whom in need of international protection – embark on the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean Sea trying to reach Europe. Many go missing, and their families remain without any news of them. The Ocean Viking, a ship chartered by the non-governmental organization SOS Méditerranée in partnership with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, conducts search and rescue operations to save as many stranded and shipwrecked people as they can, assist them on board and bring them to safety. Under Operation Salamat (meaning “safe and well”), a team from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Cross Societies on board the Ocean Viking collects safe and well messages from the migrants rescued at sea and delivers the messages to their families through the Family Links Network, made up of delegations of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and branches of National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
The pilot project has made a big difference by bringing some relief to the people rescued and shortening the families’ agonizing wait for news. It has also demonstrated how the Movement can work as a team and highlighted the Central Tracing Agency’s role in bringing together and coordinating people to provide real-time protection of family links around the world.