ROME – An aid group that plucked tens of thousands of migrants from the Mediterranean with its rescue ship is shifting operations to Southeast Asia to help Rohingya refugees fleeing violence in Myanmar.
The decision by Malta-based MOAS, or Migrant Offshore Aid Station, came as the number of migrants leaving Libya's lawless coast has plummeted since July. The decrease has been attributed to increased Libyan coast guard patrols and an Italy-backed deal cut with the Libyan militias that long facilitated trafficking to crack down on smuggling instead.
In a statement Monday, MOAS said it was suspending Mediterranean operations and shifting them to Asia, noting that Pope Francis has called for an international response for the Rohingya. It said it would provide aid on the Myanmar-Bangladesh border "where a deadly exodus is unfolding."